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Eotorod according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, 

Bt James Munboe and Company, 

In tlie Clerk's Office of the Di^Uict Court of the District of Massachosetto. 


31 DcTonthirt Strtet, 








This book has not been written as a history of the 
Chinese, or as an elaborate essay on that great nation. 

In May, 1844, I sailed in the barque Pioneer for Can- 
ton, and afler a tedious passage arrived at Macao on the 
22d of September following. It was uncertain how long 
we should remain, but thought at first that our stay would 
occupy a very few days. We at once went to Canton, 
and as I had little or nothing to do connected with the 
vessel, my time was my own, and I soon found that it was 
amply employed. Desirous of studying, as far as lay in 
my power, the aspect, manners, customs, habits, and ranks 
of Chinese life, I determined to come in actual contact 
with the people, instead of remaining in the hongs and 
obtaining all my information from the numerous books 
which had been written on the Celestials. In this spirit, 
day after day, I went about the streets, into all kinds of 
shops, passed much time on the densely peopled river, 
and made acquaintance, as far as lay in my power, with 
the various ranks of the inhabitants. 


I studied intently all that passed before me, and was 
rewarded for any trouble undertaken by the knowledge 
gained of the most extraordinary people, the only un- 
changed representatives of antiquity to be found among 
civilized beings. The observation of one day was care- 
fully compared with that of the next, and the result of my 
researches submitted to the decision of gentlemen, who 
had lived years in China, with the best opportunities of 
becoming acquainted with the natives. 

Finally, I referred to works of established merit, and 
adopted nothing until I was fully borne out by unques- 
tionable authority. In this manner (our stay being pro- 
tracted for several months) I became intimately acquainted 
with the inhabitants of Canton, who differ only in slight 
peculiarities from the great mass of their countrymen. 

But as I visited no other great city in the empire, I 
have called my book the "Canton Chinese." I deter- 
mined before engaging in this work to treat of nothing 
that did not come under my own observation, and so my 
range of subjects is limited. But the reader may rely on 
the truth of tlie volume. I had several reasons for adopt- 
ing the course that I have pursued. I considered the Chi- 
nese so wonderful a people, and so unjustly underrated, 
that I was desirous of bringing them to the more intimate 
knowledge of my countrymen, as far as' could be effected 
by my feeble efforts. Thus I preferred to work out care- 
fully a cabinet picture, rather than attempt a great histori- 
cal painting. 

In the second place, my stay in China was limited, and 


though ample time elapsed to glean all that is contained 
in the following pages, yet it was not sufficient to study 
Chinese history and polity. Therefore I have said nothing 
of dynasties, governments, laws, language or literature. 
Nothing that I could have written on these heads would 
have possessed the least interest or weight, and would 
have heen mere plagiarisms. 

Lastly, my utter ignorance of the Chinese language, 
without Vhich no one can of himself study Chinese his- 
tory, held me firm in the course I had chosen. 

A few of the leading chapters were originally puhlished 
in the Baltimore American, but they have been much en- 
larged, and are now presented to the public in an improved 

I shall be happy if my humble efforts are the means 
of inducing my readers to turn a portion of their attention 
towards the Celestial Empire ; and the further they pursue 
their researches, the more will they find to praise in the 
peaceful energy, industry and ingenuity of the most en- 
lightened of orientals. 

Baltimore, Md., August, 1849. 




































Voyages are proverbially tedious, even from the 
days of Columbus, and every commercial traveller 
who now-a-days embarks in a Liverpool packet, 
never fails to inform his friends or the reading world 
in general, bow long the passage seemed, how often 
the sails of the ship flapped wearily, who composed 
the party in the after cabin, when he cast his bait 
for a shark, saw a suspicious sail, and threaded a 
deal of seaweed. 

Tiresome as all such experience is to the voyager, 
his ennui cannot equal that of his readers, from the 
simple fact that like long yams have been heard a 
thousand times before, and the devoted victim, who 
has piously made up his mind to wade through '^ A 
foreign tour," because he is expected to feel the deep- 
est interest in its author, cannot help wishing that the 


first chapter, written " at sea," had never been per* 
mitted to appear on dry land. 

I will merely say, that we had flown through the 
Indian ocean, with all the sail that a strong south- 
east trade wind had permitted us to carry, and one 
fine afternoon in August, 1844, we heard the first 
mate sing out " Land ! " as Java Head loomed majes- 
tically over the dark gray waters. 

We deemed it prudent to lay to that night, as no 
one on board knew the perils of the Straits of Sunda, 
and we had good reason to hope, that the morning 
would see us safe past Angier Point, and hurrying 
for the Java Sea. 

But we were not so fortunate. 

The morning dawned and the sun rose almost 
simultaneously, for the brilliant equatorial climes 
know not the romance of the twilight hour, the wind 
blew, we made sail, came abreast of Princes Island, 
eaught a glimpse of the noble scenery of the straits, 
when the clouds gathered in quick as a storm among 
the Alps. 

The wind chopped round, the tide turned strong 
against us, and thus in the face of sea and sky did 
beat for seven days, along the great headlands of 
Western Java, and at length, weary with reverses 
and ill luck, anchored in Anjier roads. 

It was pleasant to ride at quiet anchor after tossing 
for months upon the ocean, to hear the soothing sound 
of waves break with a distant roar upon the shining 
beach, and to look upon scenery as beautiful as that 
around us. 

On one side the length of Java extended for many 
miles, its headlands and mighty mountains towering 


into cloud, while its rich yalleys shone in the sun- 
light as green as emerald. 

Vast trees, thick grown along the shores, gave deep 
shade to the huts of the natives, whose long narrow 
boats with latteen sails, dotted the sparkling bay, 
and tlie bungalows of the Dutch residents, and the 
white walled fort glistened brightly. 

To the left, the magoificent peaks of scattered 
islands rose from the waters, covered to their sharp 
summits with the dense quick vegetation of the sunny 
tropic, and dim in distance on the sou th'ern most point 
of Sumatra, upreared the mighty Rajah Bassa, half 
veiled in shade, like the majesty of an Eastern 

Scarce had we been anchored five minutes, when 
we saw a long proa full of men, pulling directly for 
us. We had heard from childhood awful stories of 
Malay pirates, fellows who cut your throat more 
readily than your, purse-strings, and we had had all 
our armament ready, ever since we entered the 
Straits of Sunda. 

Our two six pounders were run out of their port- 
holes, our muskets loaded for the crew, and the 
supercargo and I had put our Colt's revolvers into 
our pockets, firmly determined to astonish the natives 
only as a dernier resort, when pacific measures should 
be totally unavailing. 

But we took courage, as we saw that there was 
no long gun in the bow of the boat, and actually 
smiled when we could not detect small arms among 
her crew ; she carried a Dutch flag, and only bore a 
peaceful envoy. He was a Malay mail agent, sent 
oat by the Resident, to ask us accidentally on pur- 


pose if we had any opium on board, and to take our 
letters for far distant America. 

He bore a capacious leather bag, and it was a 
pleasure for a quarter of an hour to tumble its con- 
tents about on the cabin table, to spell out the high 
and low Dutch directions, for ''Amsterdam, Rotter«> 
dam, Schiedam, and all the other dams," and to 
place our own bulletins among them. 

Malays may be children of the Sun, but a more 
wretched looking set I had never dreamed of. The 
post-office factotum's crew were probably picked 
men. Fancy twenty fellows each about four feet and 
a half high, some with a hat and coat, minus panta* 
loons, and others with only a waistband ; imagine 
their long strait hair utterly uncombed, their sinister 
and cunning countenances, their teeth filed down to 
the sixteenth of an inch from their gums, and black 
as ebony from chewing betel nut, their lips and 
tongues of the brightest scarlet from the same cause, 
and several of the party deprived of one organ of 
vision ; and you have as good an idea of a boat's crew 
of Malays as I can furnish. 

In a few moments we had the deck full of traders, 
with cocoanuts, bananas, shells, rice, and curry ; the 
opulent of the party had large bags of paddy and 
yams, while the needy could ofier only perhaps a 
parrot, or a Sumatran monkey. 

After months of salt provisions, after our pigs had 
all been slaughtered, and our sheep become so thin, 
that we thought it cruel to kill them, we congratu- 
lated ourselves on the forthcoming day's prospects, of 
fried chickens and vegetables, and at once fell to 
bartering in the most approved fashioUi albeit it was 
the Sabbath day. 


A scantily clad fellow, took a fancy to an old blue 
calico coat of mine that I had brought with me, and 
which was soaking in a wash tub at the moment of 
his visit. A bargain was struck for a hat of out- 
landish fashion, and an eastern umbrella ; the garment 
was taken possession of and instantly donned by the 
fortunate darky, on whose back it clung most aflfec* 

Two individuals of the party deserve especial 
notice; the first clad in an old naval coat given him 
by an officer of the St. Louis sloop of war, was a 
native of portentous consideration, who universally 
styled himself Mr. Penn. 

The other was a taciturn being, who had obtained 
the cognomen of Muddy Sam, and who, in the sim- 
plicity of his heart, exhibited certificates of his own 
good name, written by waggish voyagers, and which 
were about as apt as the lucubrations in the travel- 
lers' books at the Falls of Niagara. 

Penn seemed to wish it understood, that he was 
very wealthy, and desirous of testing the truth of 
his assertions, I questioned Muddy Sam, who replied 
with something between a sneer and a leer ; " No 
very rich, he hab got sixteen or seventeen dollar." 

On one point, however, I found Penn quite a phi- 
losopher. Though polygamy is sanctioned in Java, 
he clung afiectionately to his only wife, and said that 
twa women " makee too muchee bobbery." 

Every English or American traveller must notice 
the universality, among all these people, of his native 

Rude as it may seem spoken *'by the debased peor 
pie of these glorious isles, yet it conjures up a vision 


of friends and fireside joys, like the sound of fami- 
liar bells, which legends say are sometimes musical 
in the ear of the mariner, though half the wide 
Atlantic is spreading between him and hi^ village 

Though the keels of many nation's ships have 
tracked these waters, though France's and mighty 
Russia's savans, have sounded their depths and noted 
their dangers, though Holland's frigates scour them 
ceaselessly, and Holland's people bear absolute sway 
over the Malay, though the bold Portuguese .first 
braved and doubled the Cape of Storms, yet the lan- 
guage of none of these is heard, and English, only 
English, greets the ear. 

It is an eloquent tribute to the might of Britain, 
that in far reaching territories, hers is the only foreign 
tongue known to the unlettered savages; that in 
Hindostan, her gothic graft of speech has flourished 
widely with the parent stem; that so in China, all 
the sons of that vast enlightened empire, who through 
commerce come in contact with a paler race, have 
in some degree studied to syllable their words, and 
here in Java, long after English domination has vol- 
untarily yielded again to the Hollander, the pliant 
Asiatic still clings to the Anglo Saxon, and will not 
be taught his taskmaster's tongue. 

The morning after we anchored, the wind was 
still adverse, and much to my joy we determined to 
go on shore. We dived to the bottom of our sea 
chests, to find wherewithal to decorate our persons, 
and having accomplished a satisfactory toilet, pulled 

The boat was rowed around Anjier Point, and 


pulled itito a beautiful little cove, into which a stream 
from the mountains found its way. 

On one side of this rivulet was the fort, with a 
Malay guard at its entrance ; a little bridge crossed 
the stream and touched a path that led to the resi- 
dent's house on the other. 

The day was blazing hot ; and we found a native 
servant appropriately clad in a heavy black and 
orange livery, with a sword girded on, sent to re- 
ceive us at the bridge. 

Long extending avenues, lined with the huts of 
the Malays, and bordered with enormous trees, and 
thick grown with luxuriant grass, led from the land- 
ing place in various directions, and our sable guide, 
after making a low salaam, showed us along one of 
them a few steps, when he turned into the resident's 

The most splendid flowers were in full bloom; 
we saw gigantic specimens of palms, whose sickly 
growth we had known in our own hot-houses, and 
the whole atmosphere seemed laden with the warmth, 
the perfume, the almost overpowering odors of a 

The resident's bungalow was of a single story, 
with a long deep porch in front, and walking 
thereon, we saw a gentleman of about fifty years of 
age, in a military uniform, and with an orange 
colored complexion. This was the High Comp- 
troller of Finance, an officer of distinguished birth 
and station, who had lived nearly thirty years in 
Java, and who was visiting Anjier, and about to 
return to his native country. 

He was very gracious, more so when he found us 


Americans ^ and we could see that he bore no great 
liking to the English, from his distant manner 
towards a party of them from another ship. 

The servant in the uncomfortable livery obeyed 
his nod instanter, and summoned the proprietors of 
the mansion, a very large, good*natured lady, and 
her thin, wiry, choleric husband. 

The porch, owing to the heat of the season, was 
used as a parlor ; there were mats and couches 
spread about, a swinging lamp hung from the ceil- 
ing, a coil of perfumed cocoanut fibres burned 
slowly on the table, the servants placed chairs, and 
I tried to fancy myself surrounded with oriental 

The lady resident was quite^alone in the little vil- 
lage, save her nervous husband, and an officer com- 
manding the fifty Malay soldiers of the fort, but she 
had no female friend. 

She wished to hear the latest news from America, 
and told how much she had been amused, a few 
weeks previous, by hearing a genuine down-easter 
repeat some of his queer Yankee yams. 

We sent on board for our spare books, for which 
she was very grateful. 

We were seated a few moments, when the En- 
glish parly aforementioned came up, ladies and 
gentlemen, some ten in number. 

The Londoner is the same unvarying individual 
all over the world ; one of the number was a fat 
man perspiring freely, but not sufficiently to smooth 
out the creases of his tight city dress coat ; his rubi- 
cund countenance was relieved by his enormous 
shirt collar, in one hand he bore '' James's last," 


the other inclosed two numbers of his favorite 

There were two missionaries from Oxford, going 
to enUghten the Chinese on the thirty-nine articles, 
and two or three young merchants, going to win 
golden opinions among the Hongs of Canton. 

The captain of the ship was a fine specimen of 
an English sailor, who had a pretty widow in tow, 
going to the Hong Kong market. 

We were seated — the resident with true Dutch 
hospitality had filled up each a brimming rummer, 
though the hour was early, when we suddenly heard 
a noise of gongs, drums, fifes, and shrill voices, and 
the lady resident told us that we would have the 
pleasure of seeing something of a Malay wedding. 

A troop of some fifty men, and the like number of 
women, making the horrible noise and surrounding 
a gaudy palanquin, wherein reclined the bride, and 
a caparisoned poney bestrode by the groom, stopped 
for a moment at the gate, till the happy pair dis- 
mounted, and then the whole troop, male and female, 
approached the verandah, singing not in Rubini's 
most approved manner. 

The retinue halted at the porch, and led by a dusky 
lady mai^ger, who had herself been married at ten, 
and withered in her teens, the youthful pair ascended 
the steps, and kneeling for a moment, the resident 
gave each a little piece of money, and said a few 
words as in ratification of their proceedings. 

They then in perfect silence occupied two chairs 
for the space of five minutes, durmg which I had 
time to study their dress, and learn a Uttle of Malay 


The State costume in Java is quite au ruMiurel^ for 
the groom was naked to his waist, and his garments 
consisted in nothing but a pair of bright pantaloons, 
and a gaudy vestment resembling a petticoat, into 
which was stuck a handsome creese. 

The bride was rather more fully clad, and the 
heads of both were greased to the last degree, and 
decorated with wreaths of powerful fragrance ; their 
faces were smeared with the brightest yellow wash, 
even to the tips of their eyelids, and on the fingers 
of the girl were displayed several splendid l^frilliants, 
which I learned were handed about from bride to 
bride, and probably belonged to some of the moun- 
tain chiefs. 

This noise of drums and shrieks, this painting, this 
junketting, continues for three entire days, and then 
the fortunate man is not put to the expense of taking 
a house in a fashionable square, and furnishing his 
parlor with the French lounge and the glittering 
mirror ; but he packs up bag and baggage, reverses the 
order of things, and quarters from the date of his 
honeymoon, to his last sigh, or his second marriage, 
on the partner of his pleasures. 

I thought of writing, and do now recommend to 
all the spendthrifts of my beloved city, to all those 
fine gentlemen, whom, having dissipated handsome 
fortunes, are too delicate for exertion, too proud for 
beggary, and generously force their wives to open 
the select school or the exclusive boarding house, to 
betake themselves with all due speed, to the hospi- 
table caresses of the Anjier ladies. 

We went on board ship to dinner, and towards the 
sunset hour returned to the shore. 


We found his orange-colored highness smoking in 
the verandah, and accompanied by a deferential sec- 
retary in blue and silver uniform ; the comptroller 
clapped his hands, and the ubiquitous servant ap- 
peared with wondrous speed ; his master murmur^, 
^' Caai Manco," and the slave, with the rapidity of 
thought, brought the delicious tea. We declared it 
excellent, and found none better afterwards in China 
itself, and indeed that of Java is to a great extent 
cultivated by runaway Chinese, of whom there are 
some thousands scattered over the island. 

After the meal, his excellency invited us to take a 
walk with him. 

The way led through one of the beautiful roads, 
green under foot, and lined with luxuriant hedges ; 
all the plantations were in a state of the highest cul- 

We paused a mqment at the apology for the Anjier 
hotel, its sign-board was the stern carving of some 
dismantled or plundered ship, and a ruinous billiard 
table stood before its door. 

We looked in, descried some familiar prints, pur- 
chased a few little articles, and scraped acquaintance 
with a shrewd Malay boy of six years of age, who 
offered us bottled porter for a consideration, and knew 
but two English words ; one was beer, and the other, 
of course,, was — money. 

That most active of all servants, the indefatigable 
fellow in variegated regimentals, trotted on behind, 
with a coil of cocoanut lighted, for the convenience 
of cheroot smokers. 

The comptroller was very polite and communica- 
tive, spoke English and Malay as fluently as his own 


Dutch, showed us beautiful plantations of coffee, 
tobacco, cocoanuts, nutmegs, &c. and led us several 
miles over those blooming hills and valleys. We 
wound along by an aqueduct leading to the moun- 
tain springs, and were regaled with some of the 
luscious fruits pulled from the trees. In various 
spots, we saw clumps of spontaneous palms, those 
most graceful and significant types of orientalism; 
and as the sun went down, beheld troops of laborers 
returning from the fields, and each and every one 
made low obeisance to his powerful excellency. 

We passed the monument erected to the memory 
of Earl Cathcart, who died in the Straits of Sunda, 
while on his embassadorial way to the Celestial 
Empire, and returned to the resident's house, just as 
the full moon was rising, and had shed its silvery 

splendor over the dancing waves 

We kept company for many days with the English 
ship, and the tedious passage up the China Sea occu- 
pied us nearly thirty days. 

Occasionally we varied the monotony of our ex- 
istence, by visiting the beautiful vessel, where we 
were most kindly received, and in return invited 
some of her passengers to dine with us. We rum- 
maged the small stores, and brought to light our 
long treasured preserves and brandy fruits, we boiled 
our best ham, cooked our yams in the most approved 
fashion, ofiered a Maryland dish of chickens, un- 
corked our finest wines, and spent a few hours 

We compared notes as to the voyage, and com- 
forted each other with the prospect of an approach- 
ing typhoon. 


Indeed, the weather boded it; it was hot, clear, 
dead calm most of the time, and the helm, that con- 
science of a vessel, could no more sway ours ; the 
ship went spinning round and round, in crossing cur- 
rents, beneath the blue glare of the overarching 
firmament^ and the pitchy seams of the decks, even 
beneath the spreading awning; yawned as if with 

The sun would wheel flashing up the sky, and 
pour upon our little speck of a bark, lying supine 
upon the waters, the fiery strength of his beams, and 
as the hour of observation came, it seemed as if we 
could read in his merciless splendor, that day after 
day brought no change, and that we were still pow- 
erless, motionless, battened down upon the same 
burning spot of the salt sea, without a handbreadth 
of friendly vapor visible, wherein to look for a breath 
of air, save near the horizon, dead, windless, cop- 
pery clouds, as stagnant as the still element below ; 
— and in such an hour, giving no sign of his com- 
ing, save by the faithful glass, rushes the avenging 
typhoon on the mariner, who, but an hour before, 
had cursed the calm, and invoked the tempest, 
and it smites with tFie rapidity and malignancy of. 
Smyrna's plague. 

But at last the gentle breeze came, and blew us 
happily along the smooth sea, and in a few days we 
saw at a distance the strange sails of China's 

That night the wind freshened ; we made the land 
at early light, took a wild Chinese half naked pilot, 
passed the Lema and Ladrone Islands, and were 




requited at last for all the idle hours in the China 
Sea, by being obliged to shorten sail, and thus, with 
stretching canvass, we went flying into Macao Roe^ds, 
and into anchorage. 




We were anchored; the good wind that had 
brought us into haven had not died away ; but we 
could not use the ship's cutter as a sail-boat, fearful 
that if we took the men ashore, they would celebrate 
their hour of liberty by getting drunk. So we deter- 
mined to accept the services of one of the little naugh- 
ty boat women, who were paddling their sampans 
about the bay. 

A boat of the larger class was tossing under the 
vessel's quarter ; a bargain was struck with its disin- 
terested owner, who assured us that we would get 
" wet tocking " if we ventured with any one but 
himself, we tumbled into his queer craft ; he hoisted 
sail, and we steered for the old curious city of Macao. 

Up to this moment I had not seen the Chinaman 
proper. The pilot taken outside the harbor was an 
outlandish specimen of human nature, who did not 
at all give a fair specimen of the Celestial ; but on 
the deck of this little boat were congregated a crew 
of genuine sons of the middle kingdom. 

Their dresses consisted mostly of blue cotton ; an 
upper garment resembling a wide shirt, and enormous 
pantaloons disclosing a good portion of muscular 
calves, completed the equipment of the elite of the 


• ^ 

Some few had divested themselves of their togas, 
and, as their heads are always exposed to sun and 
storm, and their backs only about half the time, by 
consequence their faces were baked much browner 
than their bodies. 

For the first time, too, I noticed the peculiar fea- 
tures of the Mongol race ; their long narrow eyes, 
their brows turning upwards to the outer extremity 
and the nose a little flattened. Their shaven heads 
were kept in as truly orthodox a manner, according 
to Chinese fashion, as the old regulations enforced 
upon the pumpkin . heads under the blue laws of 

The skipper of the passage boat was somewhat 
better off. He possessed a wife, a spyglass aud a 
chart of the river, all of which were kept on board 
forever. He wore blue cotton stockings and good 
shoes ; and having secured his queue from the influ- 
ence of the wind, by sitting down upon it, he entered 
into conversation. 

His better half was unable to make herself in- 
telligible, excepting by signs, so she could not 
look indignant, when we asked her husband her 

Rude as this crew was, I could not but notice their 
kind manner towards the woman ; and living as they 
did with her in this little boat year after year, she had 
in a manner softened them, and extorted more than 
I had looked for of that respectful deference, regarded 
as a female's due in polished nations, and so generally 
denied in China. 

The water grew shallow, and we could proceed 
no further in the passage boat; so we hailed a dossen 


of sampans, and instantly a commotion arose among 

Each lady owner of one of these little boats put 
forth her strength and pulled for us with ail her 
might, shrieking at the same time, '^ Come in my 
boaty," "come in my boaty." 

The little girls were mostly quite pretty, and had 
taken care to arrange their heads in the most fasci- 
nating manner possible. Down their backs their hair 
appeared braided into a queue, which is never 
gathered into a knot, until the nuptial knot is also 

On their foreheads a little portion of their hair was 
brought down nearly to a level with their eyebrows, 
and cut off square at the end, after the fashion of 
some tribes of our far distant Indians. 

A sampan is more like a child's old fashioned 
covered cradle than any thing else that 1 know of. 

It is propelled usually by two women. One pulls 
an oar at the bow, and the other works the heavy 
scull at the stem^ nicely balanced on a single iron 
pivot, and their joint labors drive it through the water 
with considerable velocity. 

And so with one mighty twirl of the scull Miss 
Aming Hoy, or whatever her name was, sent us 
high and dry on the beach, and we stood on Chinese 

Macao in general characteristics resembles Naples. 
The same beautiful bay studded with green islands, 
the same gently curving beach, the same rising hills 
on either side, and the houses and buildings of every 
description towering up the slope that stretches from 
the pier; but it wants the lovely Villa Reale and the 



gay equipages of the European city. But io the 
views, the aspect of the whole place, the sense at once 
of mysterious decay and romance, with which this 
paradise of the China-Portuguese fills the mind, 
there is nothing of common-place life or activity. 

There is romance connected with its history and 
its situation, with its growth under the once powerful 
Portuguese, now dwindled to a despised and feeble 
maniple of people, with its former condition as the 
sole foothold for Europeans during centuries of barely 
tolerated existence, with the banishment, the songs 
and the glory of Camoens, with the Catholic and 
silvery sound of convent bells, and even yet with the 
half forbidding half enticing wide garden courts of 
the old family residences, and their dark green latticed 

But reserving Macao for a future visit, our great 
object was to obtain a pilot for the river, and proceed 
to Whampoa as fast as possible. We were stared at 
in the most ferocious manner by the Portuguese 
custom-house guard in the little four gun battery in 
the middle of the pier ; so much so that we wondered 
if Americans were included in their protective tariff, 
and only admitted upon payment of heavy duty. 
But finding that we had no trunks with us, and were 
not stuffed corpulently with contraband goods, they 
allowed us to proceed, and even ventured to point 
out the way to the gentleman's house we were seek- 

The Chinese bear no very good-will to these 
fellows, who, mostly transplanted from Goa, have 
evidently brought a spirit of the Inquisition with 
them. One of our party some time after, about the 


period of the Amerk;an Presidential election, asking 
Shinqua if he knew what a Locofoco was, the vin- 
dictive native answered, '^ I speck he one Portuguese 
soldier at Macao." 

We took our pilot, a boy about eighteen years old, 
with a full suit of fine grass-cloth, and a countenance 
as broad, if not as luminous as the full moon, and 
getting under way at once we sailed rapidly up the 

We saw in the offing ships of various nations 5 
fishing boats, always in pairs in case of accident to 
either one ; mandarin boats, to prevent the smuggling 
of opium, or to smuggle it themselves, as is most 
convenient ; and clumsy war junks to terrify barba- 
rians. Vessels of various shapes and sizes were 
visible in such numbers that they seemed like bees 
swarming around a hive. Through a glass their 
decks were seen crowded with human beings, busy 
in trimming sail or closely engaged at work, mak- 
ing a pleasure of business and not a business of 

We towed the pilot's cockle boat merrily along. 
In it were his wife, his child, and a second lady. 
His baby was not more than able to sit up, and was 
tied to the boat with a float fastened to its little back. 
This did not look like infanticide; and, indeed, I 
believe the reports of child murder among these poor 
creatures are for the most part monstrous lies, at least 
I never, at that time or afterwards, saw an infant 
corpse upon the stream. 

A little rice and tea taken several times a day, and 
a few biscuits begged as a perquisite, seemed to suffice 
the pilot's domestic bliss. He gave no great trouble 


except in sometimes bawling port and starboard, 
to show his qualifications as sailing master; and 
once his sagacious counsel drovS us through a barrier 
of fish stakes stretched across the channel. 

We came in view of the Bocca Tigris. Nine dis- 
tinct ramparts could I make out, all strongly fortified. 
In one of them I counted, I think, one hundred and 
thirty cannon in a single row. But the thousand 
guns of thi^4^arrow passage could not prevail against 
a few of England's cruisers, and probably caused 
much more hai^og among the workers of them by 
bursting and knocking an occasional squad into 
atoms, than they inflicted upon the enemy. 

Now we entered the river proper and had a fair 
view of the Canton province. Presently we descried 
the unique and exclusively Chinese towers, the pago- 
das, such as we had seen in picture books ; and we 
hailed them as old friends and familiar. 

We flew on, and, submitting to the bar-boat 
squeeze, saw joyfully beyond the clumsy junks with 
their latteen sails, the tapering, graceful masts of 
European ships. But we passed along, leaving the 
mighty Indiamen like so many seventy-fours in 
Blenheim Reach, and scudding still higher up the 
stream, hoisted the American flag, and dropped an- 
chor at last near the foot of Whampoa Island, among 
a number of our country's vessels. 

As soon as we swung round with the tide, a good 
fat specimen of our nation, the captain of one of the 
most beautiful of her ships, came on board to bid us 
welcome. He was clothed from top to toe in white 
linen, with spotless canvass shoes, and a white hat, 
made of the lightest kind of cork, covered with cot- 


ton. Such is the dress that alone is tolerable in that 
raging climate, even in October and November. The 
ships, too, around us, were all built over with thatch- 
ed roofs, like the arctic voyagers, only that here the 
cold was intended to be kept in and not out 

We were introduced by our fellow-countryman to 
a native, known to all Americans as " Boston Jack." 
He bad been to Boston many years ago, spoke Eng- 
lish quite fluently, and seemed to consider himself 
the internuncio of Whampoa. 

Engaging what is called a '' dollar boat," manned 
with six or eight rowers, we pulled away for Can- 
ton, some ten or twelve miles distant. Nothing is 
more pleasant in the way of passing time upon the 
water than to be thus gently pulled along. The 
boats themselves are shaped much like the gondolas 
of Yenice; a platform stretches out in front, on 
which the men sit and work their oars, while on the 
rising stem stands the master at his heavy scull. 
You descend a foot from the- level of the bow, and 
are in a pretty apartment with seats on three sides 
of it. Here you can lie down, and with your head 
pillowed upon a little slope at the end of the seat, 
look out upon the busy scene without the slightest 
fatigue more than of raising the eyelids. 

The little room is often decorated with pictures of 
birds and flowers, with carved work, or gilded sen« 
tences of Chinese lore. It has glass sashes to shield 
off the wind, and green blinds to hide the sun. You 
hear the heavy scull grinding on its pivot with a 
monotonous sound, have a sense of passing along a 
beautiful river with banks sown with waving grain, 
or planted with orange groves, see the thousand 


boats hurrying by, the smaller sort all worked by 
women, and every now and then pass a little canal 
opening from the stream, conducting to some distant 
village in the fields. Such is the hour spent in the 
pleasure boats, gliding along with a gentle undu- 
lating motion. 

All is soothing after a long voyage, and all is 
strange; stranger even than we thought it would be. 

There is no spectacle in the world more wonderful 
to a stranger's eyes than the river population of the 
Celestial Empire. He who has been accustomed to 
see vast territories in America uncultivated, and 
almost unknown; who has seen its mighty rivers 
dotted with scattered sail, and its forests, still unex- 
plored ; or who has threaded the streets of European 
capitals, and thought them crowded, learns, perhaps, 
for the first time, in sailing up the Canton River, 
how far the multitudes of other continents yield to 
the teeming millions of Asia. 

In almost all countries population is confined for 
the most part to the shore. But, it is no fiction to 
say, that in China there are millions who, from the 
hour of birth to that of their death, have their only 
homes upon its waters, dwelling in some frail bark 
just big enough to breathe in, the gifts of parents, 
who had nothing else to give. 

We have passed Whampoa with its thousands of 
inhabitants, but considered a mere village; we have 
passed the nine storied pagodas, that a thousand 
years ago stood, where they now stand, on gentle 
eminences, embosomed in trees, the most picturesque 
of towers; we have left the barriers thrown across 
the river during the British invasion ; and now see 



the stream covered with boats, and float between 
fields green to the edge of the water. 

We have seen thousands of natives, men and 
women, toiling under a blazing sun in meadows rich 
with heavy harvests, yet not more than enough to 
preserve life in the mass of creatures who garner it; 
we have seen other yet more pitiable objects, search- 
ing the banks of the river for reptiles to feed upon ; 
we pass again fortifications as extensive nearly as 
those at the mouth of the river; but we shall see 
something more wonderful '^han this, than these, 
than all." 

An immense hill upon the right now attracts our 
gaze, for on the one side of it are scattered villages 
and emerald meadows, and on the other a hazy 
cloud, like the dense atmosphere that overhangs an 
enormous, city. 

We pass now rows of fish-stakes driven into the 
bed of the stream, reaching from bank to bank, with 
narrow passages for boats, and now we float between 
large trading junks from Singapore and Siam, and 
the northern ports, shaped like a Chinese shoe, and 
their high stems decorated with gaudy paintings. 
We mark their huge wooden anchors, their grass 
cables, mooring them at both ends, and their im- 
mense sails of course matting. 

Some are laden with bamboo furniture; some 
have quantities of lanterns hanging over the side; 
and some bring the highly prized sandal wood and 
precious drugs, and return laden With the productions 
of the looms, workshops, and gardens of China, its 
silks, its porcelain and its tea. 

There were two vessels near to each other, that 


had come long distances with different purposes; the 
one was an English war steamer that had left Hong 
Kong to compel the payment of the indemnity money, 
or to throw her shot into the narrow streets. The 
other was a Siamese ship humbly coming as of old, 
to lay tribute at the feet of the Emperor. 

We soon arrive among the larger class of Tessels, 
employed as men-of-war, and more highly deeo* 
rated, — some most elaborately carved, painted and 
gilded. Vast numbers of junks are passed swarming 
with life, loading, discharging, repairing, sampans 
are flying to and fro, and Indiamen's boats, pulled 
by Lascars in gay dresses, forming one of the most 
lively and crowded scenes imaginable. 

Here is a mandarin boat coming down the tide, 
with perhaps forty oars on a side, covered with a 
matted house, to shield her crew from the sun, arm- 
ed with one or more cannon or long swivel guns, and 
decorated with brilliant flags and lanterns. 

But what means this loud noise and sound of re<- 
joicing, proceeding from one of the boats gay with 
streamers, scarlet paper and gaudy inscriptions? 
Some are burning paper, and others beating merry 
gongs, for a gentleman has taken unto himself a 
wife, and is entertaining his friends to the best of his 

And here, in a large and beautiful green and gold- 
en barge, is the sound of music, and between the 
silken curtains we may descry some of those painted 
Jezebels, from whom no soil is free. 

We have passed through several miles of boats, 
and have not seen the quarter of them. It is, indeed, 
impossible to give an idea of their number. Some say. 


Aere are as many as seventy thousand of them at 
the city of Canton alone. But let us be content 
with forty thousand. Then fancy forty thousand 
wild swan closely packed together floating on some 
wide pond, and mostly restless, yon would say 
they might cover many acres of their element 
Now by the enchantment of imagination convert the 
pond into the roaring Pekiang river, the swan into 
boats of every shape and size, the notes of the birds 
into the yells, the shrieks, the piercing noises of the 
river people, and you may have the actual scene 
before you. 

And all these boats, miles upon miles, from border 
to border, are densely packed with human beings in 
every stage of life, in almost every occupation that 
exists upon the shore that they seldom trespass on ; 
and there they are bom, and earn their scanty bread, 
and there they die. 

The boats are moored side by side in long reach- 
ing thousands, so that the canal they form stretches 
to a point in the distance. In the Shaneem quarter, 
above the foreign factories, they form vast squares 
and avenues. Forty thousand floating tenements 
would, under any circumstances, be considered a 
singular sight, but here the swarming occupants 
give them the appearance of a mighty metropolis. 

Let ns take up the course of a human being, 

nnrsed in one of these river-rocked cradles. He is 

bom, and his mother, in a few days recovering from 

her maternal throes, straps him tightly to her back, 

and toils, as usual, at the oar. As soon as the little 

fellow can stand, he, in his turn, is put to the scull, 

just where his tiny hands can reach it, and is made 



to go through the motions. Thus the knack of 
working his passage comes to him tlieoretically long 
before he can put it in practice. 

As soon as his cranium is sufficiently covered with 
its natural growth, his hair is shaved off in fronti 
and plaited with difficulty into the taif, — the pride 
of his life, — which he is taught to cling to more 
pertinaciously even than to his integrity. Then fol* 
lows his initiation into the mysteries of chopsticks, 
the fragrance of tea, the chink of money, and the 
abhorrence of foreigners. He learns just as much 
English as his parents happen to know, and as much 
Chinese as will serve his purposes. In time he 
comes to paddle his own sampan with the best of 
his compeers, and to carry a fanqui (foreign devil) 
to Whampoa. 

Perhaps, in manhood, he may ship on board a 
junk, to see something of the world. He saihi 
up the coast of China, or to Manilla, Batavia, 
or Singapore; but wherever he goes, be becomes 
morally convinced, from the authority of old naviga- 
tors, and from his own clear, unerring judgmenti 
that the Celestial Empire is the favored of heaven, 
the centre of the earth, which is itself flat and 
square, not at all the round orange that lying barba- 
rians have tried to make him believe it is ; that the 
sun goes around the world, for he sees it ; that the 
English are savages from a little island in one of the 
four corners of the earth ; and that America, if he 
has ever heard of such a spot, is about as large as 
Macao. He returns with a deal of wisdom, gleaned 
from foreign travel, and felicitates himself that he is 
not one of the Yahoos he has met in his wanderings. 


He may haye managed to pick up a few dollars, so 
he takes a wife, and quietly holds the tenor of his 
way until he is gathered to his fathers. 

The woman's lot is harder. She is a poor, patient 
dmdge, who from infancy to age has little to break 
the m<Miotony of her toil, — her everlasting passage 
up and dowp the river, — unless it be an occasional 
fee from a foreigner, or a lusty bamboo fight with a 
rival boat-girl. 

But, however ridiculous the ideas of a Chinaman 
in aught relating to his own country may seem to a 
European, he belongs not tlie less to a mighty nation. 
That spectacle of a river, covered for miles with 
boats swarming with two hundred thousand people, 
ever industrious and active, could not be unless in 
the midst of a powerful, densely populated kingdom. 
China alone of the nations of the earth cannot find 
sufficient space in her broad territories to herd her 
millions of offspring, but must banish many to the 
scanty subsistence to be gleaned on her waters. 

A classical reader will, in reading of the junks, 
bring to mind the triremes of the ancients, and 
indeed they bear some resemblance to those stamped 
upon old coins. The two ends of the vessels rising 
high above the water are painted with ferocious dra- 
gons, if for war; the sterns are decorated with five 
or six brilliant flags, and gay streamers flaunt from 
the masts. Along the quarter galleries are ranged 
the heavy pikes shod with iron, and over the sides 
hang the round shields, conspicuous as that of Mil- 
ton's Lucifer. On the bows is painted the eye, and 
it is a remarkable coincidence that in some of the 
ancient Egyptian tombs are painted representations 


of vessels having not only this same peculiarity, bat 
corresponding in their general shape to the junks of 

The rudder is of enormous weight and size, pierced 
with holes at regular intervals, to allow it to swing 
more readily, and, by means of ropes and puUeySy 
can be hoisted entirely out of the water. The sails 
are of matting, stretching on bamboo poles at equal 
distances, and, as every thing in China seems to be 
exactly opposite to every thing in Europe, they are 
let down on to the bulwarks to be furled instead of 
being lashed to the yards above. The bow and 
stern are round at the water's edge as the old models 
of a Dutch galliot, and the-Chinese, never in a hurry 
about any thing, but accomplishing all they do by 
patient industry, are quite contented to sail at the 
rate of four or six knots an hour, and to go up the 
coast during the prevalence of one mousooUi and 
come down again with the other. 

The mandarin boats are the most beautiful of all 
the Chinese shipping, long and sharp, sitting upon 
the water gracefully. They are about as useful as 
Uncle Sam's pleasure boats, the revenue cutters, and 
every part of them bears the same rakish appear- 
ance. A long gun in the bow is worked in case of 
emergency, and heavy swivels, looking like magni- 
fied muskets, turn on pivots along the sides. They 
are heavily manned, and the numerous oars, rowed 
with a regular stroke, pull the boat along with easy 
swiftness. Underneath the slanting matting, sup- 
ported by a long ridge-pole, (going from bow to 
stern, and admirably fitted to protect her crew from 
the scorching sun,) sits in the chair of honor the fat. 


jazy, betel chewing mandarin; and when he sees 
on the river a good opportunity of plundering his 
country people under pretence of looking to the reve- 
nue, he grapples close to them, and extending his 
greedy talons, squeezes the poor devils. 

They say the pirates employ the same kind of 
vessels. I was so fortunate as not to see any, though 
at the time of my visit to Canton, a little American 
schooner was attacked and taken by these worthy 
descendants of the Ladrones. The captain, and one 
or two of his hands, barely made their escape by 
jumping into a bread locker, concealed behind the cur- 
tain of the mate's berth. The fellows, after stealing 
all they could lay their hands on, and frightening part 
of the crew overboard, went oflF in a hurry. Those 
who cleared the schooner's side, only fled one kind 
of death to meet another ; for woe to the best swim- 
mer that ever breasted the waves of ocean, if he en- 
counters those of the Pekiang river. The muddy- 
colored whirlpools suck him down their ravenous 
spirals in a moment, and if he ever comes again to 
the light of day, it is only as a corpse caught on the 
barbed hook of the iron drag. 

The freight boats are heavy, clumsy leviathans, 
stowing good things away in their capacious recesses, 
like the stomach of an alderman. If it be calm, they 
are propelled with becoming gravity along the stream 
by the crew, who walk five or six together on the 
planks at either side, pushing with long bamboo 
poles against the river's bottom. The tides run so 
strongly that it is almost impossible to stem them. 
Hence if the current turns while one of these freight 
boats is on her way down to the ships waiting for 



her cargo, her crew, instead of swearing after the 
fashion of other nations, quietly anchor for hours, 
and play cards and eat rice without the least idea of 
being in a hurry. 

The passage boats, — such as the lower Chinese 
use in tbeir frequent journeys to Macao and Hong 
Kong, — afford an illustration of the swarming nature 
of the Chinese population. They are literally cram- 
med inside and out with specimens of the human 
form divine, laughing, talking and amusing them- 
selves, — as they always can, — for a Chinaman is 
never worried at the speed of the vessel, thinking one 
day too much like another to be considered a seri- 
ous matter. 

They all start from one point at the upper part of 
the city; regular passports are furnished by some 
petty government oflScer; each man takes up very 
little room, and carries very little baggage. Many 
preferring the open air, sit on the deck of the vessel 
under the^hade of their broad umbrellas or broader 
hats, and smoke their pipes like philosophers, occa- 
sionally casting their eyes at the significant warning 
hung upon the masts, — a caution corresponding to 
"look out for pickpockets." 

The accommodation barges are the most commodi- 
ous and splendid of the pleasure boats. Many of them 
are of great size, curiously carved and gilded, con- 
taining suits of beautiful and luxurious rooms. Many 
of the merchants coming down to Canton annually 
with their chop of teas, occupy these barges with their 
attendants, and live in a very elegant style. At the 
stern a kitchen is built, in which the good living of 
the gentleman is prepared, and the crew propel the 


boat along the rivers and canals by means of the 
powerful scull and the bamboo poles. Sometimes at 
' the beginning of the new year, — when all Chinese, 
having worked hard for the previous twelve months, 
give themselves up to every species of feasting and 
jubilee, — a dozen of the old staid merchants and 
pursers that one has dealt with in sober earnest and 
deemed incapable of levity, betake themselves to one 
of these flower boats — as they are called in Canton — 
not always with the most virtuous female society, 
and leave the city for a fortnight. They go far up 
the stream, fire shooting crackers, feed on delicacies, 
overrun with good humor, and get very drunk before 
bedtime; then they come back to' Canton ready for 
work again. 

Indeed, the river navigation of China is the most 
perfect in the world. The great law of necessity has 
taught these people not only to live on just next to 
nothing, but also to manage their craft with the 
most wonderful ease, avoiding accidents from collision 
.or upsetting, and, in the face of adverse tides half 
the time, with a single long dexterous scull to thread 
the narrowest passages, to leave only a hair's breadth 
of space between surrounding boats even when pro- 
pelled at full speed, and to whirl round at the sharp- 
est angle to avoid a junk under full sail, or a canoe 
just even with the water's edge. Every man or 
woman on that river may be perfectly depended on 
to carry the stranger through the maze of boats, as a 
good lookout is kept not only for self, but for others, 
and the shrill warning cry is continually given. 

The scenery on the river's bank§, both above and 
below the city, is beautiful. Above the city the boat 


sails among green and cultivated islands, the pros- 
pect is bounded by lofty hills, and the meadows 
intervening are dotted with villages and villas. It 
is pleasant to sail up the stream, escaping awhile 
from the turmoil below, and to gaze upon a country 
as beautiful as any in the world, — and yet from 
which the stranger is debarred. A quiet rural aspect 
characterizes this part of the river, and here the sun 
sets in splendor unobscured by the smoke of Canton. 

Below the city the most interesting features of the 
landscape are the two lofty and graceful pagodas 
that stand upon the river's bank. They stand there 
so solemn, such impressive memorials of China's 
ancient greatness, that few and cold are they who 
can look upon them at any time without some degree 
of emotion. But when night comes on, and the 
broad sails are indistinctly seen, when the wind 
sighs among the long sedges of the banks, and the 
full moon rises behind the pagoda, bathing it in a 
flood of silvery lustre, I know that none can see it 
without a feeling of mysterious reverence, for its 
beauty has survived the memory of its usage. 

The buildings along the river are mostly of wood, 
not of very elegant appearance, — scarcely more so, 
indeed, than Irish shanties, — but like them they 
afford sleeping accommodations to a vast number c^ 

Here and there, however, is an immense tea hong 
qf better construction, built of blue brick with steps 
leading down to the water. The most prominent 
features are the master's name painted upon the 
building, the large lanterns at the portals, and the 
boat moored alongside. 


But there is such an appearance of life and bustle 
even in the meanest of these river cabins, that the 
eye loses the sense of squalid ugliness that they 
mostly present, and becomes awake only to the 
activity of the scene. 

The fort of Dutch Polly, so called from some blun- 
der of the phlegmatic Mynheers, is a circular fortifi- 
cation standing on a ledge of rocks in the middle of 
the stream at a little distance below the foreign fac- 
tories. It is quite thickly surrounded with trees that 
lift their green waving boughs far over the waters, 
and form a beautiful landmark to one coming up the 
river, assuring him that he is near his place of desti- 
nation ; for winding so long among those boats, the 
passenger begins to doubt if the spectacle will ever 
end. Just beyond the fort are seen the trees of the 
English garden, and in the square bordering on the 
river, most conspicuous of all, appear the tali staff 
and ensign of America. 

At all points along the banks the ready sampans 
wait obedient to the nod of the passenger, and as this 
class of boats forms no small portion of the floating 
throng, it may not be amiss to devote a paragraph to 
their exclusive commendation. Go to the bottom of 
the American garden, and at the foot of those granite 
steps placed with plumb-line accuracy by some zeal- 
ous fellow-countryman, you will find several young 
women squatting down leisurely, but ready to be 
brisk enough on the first call for a sampan. I have 
likened these boats to a child's cradle, and under the 
wicker roof stands the female at the scull, to whirl 
her boat wherever you may bid. The sampan owner 
does not worry and spoil her Jemper, because she has 


not a very extensive wardrobe. She wears neither 
shoes, stockings nor gloves, and yet a more cheerfn. 
being is seldom found. Her garments consist of the 
universal shirt and wide pantaloons of blue cotton. 
Her hair is the only part that seems to demand much 
attention ; but the arrangement of that i^ somewhat 
complicated. A false piece is set into the back of the 
head, and confined to its place by one or two brilliant 
glass fastenings. The front hair is combed back like 
that of the Bourbon court beauties. 

The narrow boat is her home. She is aroused 
early, for life on the river begins at the dawn of day. 
She is not anxious to select a becoming morning 
wrapper for breakfast ; but forthwith scours out her 
sleeping and dressing room, her parlor, her dining 
room, her library, kitchen and church all in one; 
lights a joss-stick and fixes it into a crevice of the 
boat, that its smoke may show her gratitude to some 
deity ^ and then prepares her simple bowl of rice. 
Food enough to suffice for her daily wants, and a 
little patent chafing dish with oil to heat it, are 
kept in a small locker in the boat. She has a 
good appetite, managing her chopsticks with great 
diligence, and sipping her cheap souchong with 
as much pleasure as if presiding at a magnificent 
teaboard ; and then is ready for the daily toil. 

Perhaps, if she has a few moments still to spare, 
she industriously mends a hole in one of her gar- 
ments, or polishes a glass bangle; for the poorest of 
the Chinese are not at all insensible to prnament 
Perhaps she rubs bright and clear the glass that 
covers the little pictures given to her by some enthu- 
siastic European; but all the while keeping a sharp 


eye to windward, to miss no passenger. When one 
comes along, she grasps the handle of her scull with 
one hand, beckons with the other, and screams out 
lustly in mingled Chinese ajad English that hers is 
the only safe and swift boat on the river, and that 
all the others are ''no good." If the individual is 
secured, she soon proves how valuable she can be. 
She makes the big scull grate rapidly on its fulcrum, 
whirls the boat about as if it were spinning on a pivot, 
and working 

Backwards and forwards half her length 

With a short, uneasy motion, * 

sends the sampan through the water with the ease 
of a shark skimming the seas in search of his prey. 
Thus at all hours of the day is she ready to pull for 
your gratification, always cheerful, busy and con- 
tented, thankful for a trifle of compensation. 

But you have taken an unfortunate journey, if she 
carries you down past the Canton laundry, — that 
ledge of rocks near Dutch Folly, where daily may be 
sem a squad of washers dabbling foreign garments 
in the turbid stream, till from week to week their hue 
becomes darker and darker, and their texture more 
and more threadbare. There you behold to your 
horror how the nice pantaloons, jackets and waist- 
coats emanating at home from a stylish French 
tailor, and carefully marked by mamma or sis just 
prior to your departure, are dashed about and pounded 
with stones after the martyrdom of St. Stephen, and 
treated, in short, as if with the sole view of testing the 
virtues of indelible ink. 


In all this wilderness of lighters, junks, pleasure* 
boats and sampans there is perfect order. No acci« 
dents ever take place. We seem to be running into 
a vessel — a touch of the powerful scull, and the 
boat shoots off into a long canal or sheet, that feads 
again to others. 

Ail day long we may look out upon the stream and 
see the busy natives, whose hands must work, and 
diligently too. All day long the boats are flying and 
carrying cargo to 

■" riclji argosies, 

" nclji argosies, 

That overpeer the petty traffickers." 

And all daylong we hear the sound of thronging mul- 
titudes forever toiling at the oar^ There is no ces- 
sation from labor, no hour when the hum is hushed, 
none when the sharp cries of boatmen, shrilly calling 
and responding to each other, are not heard. 

But in all this life and stir one being is seen for- 
ever lonely and forever shunned, dead to all the 
wide worlds' denizens. Not to shed splendor on his 
path, does the sun arise bringing so much happiness 
to millions of his fellow-beings; not to cheer and 
irradiate his lonely nights does the lesser luminary 
shine; not for his behests do ships go down upon 
the mighty deep ; not to obey his councils do men 
assemble in daily conclave. The smile of woman 
he never enjoys; the prattle of innocent childhood 
can never send a thrill of joy to his heart Banished 
from home, from kindred, yes, almost from human 
charity, the sun glares on him with an evil eye, and 
blazons his misery to all. He may not join in 
devotion or mirth, for his prayers are unheard, and 


happiness has no home in his tortured soul. For no 
awful crime is he doomed to his life-long punish- 
ment, and still he is wretched as the murderer. He 
knows not the condition of former associates, and 
they reck not of hini. He was once, perhaps, rich, 
honored, and happy ; health shone upon his cheek, 
and pleasure lightened his eye. But, as manhood 
was abcmt to call all his faculties into strength, a 
change came over him ; nerve left his limbs, courage 
his heart, his eye grew dim, his cheek pale, the 
blood stagnated in his body, his voice became husky, 
and his flesh as white as chalk. He staggered from 
his home, never more to cross its threshold. They 
who nursed him in his infancy shall not close his 
dying eyes, nor wrap him in his shroud. Hence- 
fiM*th a brand is set upon his brow, and he is doomed 
to lonely, unalleviated, unpitied despair. He comes, 
he paddles his little canoe, his house and coffin; 
his long beard waves in the wind, his soulless eye 
glances hurriedly round to see that be crosses no 
aoan^s path, and such is the leper, longing to die. 

Bat now a skiff appears, and in its single inmate, 
jhigling a jfiaAx of shears as he passes, all who have 
heard the sound, recognize the wandering barber. 
Here is a sampan with a woman shaking a gourd- 
rattle, inviting all to purchase of her wares. There 
an old fellow of sixty, with a long, thin, white 
moustache, and a peaked beard quite Yandyklike in 
expression, steers round to peddle oranges and plan- 
tains. Then with the fierce tide, which whirls 
swiftly hither and thither, comes a large vessel, 
crowded with staring Chinese, going to Macao. 
Soch boats may be known far off even at night by 


the ceaseless motion of the ponderous sculls, work- 
ing with a see-saw, see-saw, see-saw sound. 

But towards sunset there is a change. Many then 
rest upon their oars, and moor their little barks in 
the accustomed place ; the buzz of business subsides, 
and the inmates of almost every boat may be seen 
preparing their evening meal, or sitting down on the 
platform in the bow, with their bowl of rice, chop- 
sticks and tea. Then the hong boats emerge from 
their hiding places with the merchants who wish to 
enjoy an hour upon the river; and the wherries, 
cutters and gigs of the young foreign clerks ^appear, 
leaving behind them the sampans as the thorough 
bred racer outspeeds the hack horse. And while the 
last hues of day show the barges below and their 
gorgeous flags, then arises from them the din of 
unnumbered gongs, and burning crackers are thrown 
upon the stream. Those whose idea of a gong is 
connected with a modern hotel, will have no agree- 
able recollections of it ; but heard over the waters 
of China, at the distance of some miles, the sound 
is not unpleasing. But at evening their roar is 
tremendous, and so vivid is the picture o^ the river, 
that even when I close my eyes, that wonderful 
scene seems still real before me, and I feel an invol- 
untary desire to shut my ears too against the un- 
forgotten, deafening clangor of those far-sounding 
sunset gongs. 

But night brings another change to the turmoil of 
this scene. If it be moonlight, hiding all defects and 
softening all beauties, the spectacle of the silent city 
is more pleasing than at any other time, for the 
shadowy vistas of sleeping barks are gradually lost 


in distance, and have the same appearance as they 
would in some vast painting, where all is full of 
life, and yet where nothing stirs. Or, if it is a dark 
night, there is yet a pleasure in seeing the cheer- 
ing rays of the lanterns glittering along the watery 
avenues, and twinkling like stars upon the rapid 
river. Sometimes the sounds of festivity for a while 
ring over the waves, but as the hours advance the 
voices die away, the lights go out one by one, and at 
midnight all those busy thousands lie hushed in 
quiet slumbers on the dark, rolling Pekiang. 




After those beings whose mode of life we have 

described, and who for ages have been debarred 

' companionship and alliance with the more stationary 

/population of the shore, we visit these last also and 

^ glance at their appearance, their manners, customs, 

dress, etc., which admit of more varied and no less 

interesting description than those of the river people. 

We land at the foot of the American garden, and 
have a feeling of home come over us as we stand 
under the shadows of our country's broad and 
beautiful ensign. 

Our trunks are lifted from the boat to the quay, and 
though we look in vain for familiar dusky porterd to 
convey them to a fashionable hotel, we presently see 
half a dozen natives bent on the same good purpose. 
First approaches an old cooley belonging to Russell 
& Co.'s hong, who goes by the convenient name of 
Qui, a bow-legged specimen of his race, who, with 
his two sons and a few other men, take charge of 
the baggage. • 

They have strong elastic poles resting upon the 
shoulders of each two men, and our trunks suspend- 
\^ ed with ropes, swing clear of the ground. 

The men stoop down until the weight is properly 
adjusted, and then at a certain grunt, indicating 


ready, they rise and carry it off quite fast at a dog- 
trot kind of gait. 

Qui has on a loose sleeved jacket of dark blue 
cotton, and wide Dutch-looking pantaloons beneath, 
exposing an ample portion of his stout, useful legs. 

He is without stockings, but his feet display the 
national clumsy shoe, turning up at the toes, with 
immense soles of wood. His head-gear consists in 
a cap of brown felt, with the brim bent upwards, 
and when we observe that his jacket is buttoned 
over the right breast, and that his tail and mous- 
taches are of a black and gray mixture, we shall 
have described him sufficiently. As it is a very hot 
day, some of his party have divested themselves of 
shoes and of jackets ; one gentleman has quite imi- 
tated Cupid, and most of the set have wreathed their 
tails around their heads to get them out of the way. 

We traverse the square, and diving into a dark 
vaulted passage, find ourselves in the hospitable 
quarters of Russell & Co., which for some months 
was my home, and where I always experienced the 
utmost courtesy and kindness from every gentleman 
connected with the house. 

If we enter China street, we become at once sensi- 
ble of the dense throng surrounding us wherever we 


We pass along, threading the way between 

mjnriads of hums^n beings, hurrying this way and 
that, carrying burdens, jostling each other, and 
prominent among them are numbers of itinerant 
tradesmen, vociferating the names of their commodi- 
ties in a series of infernal yells. 
We look up a street and see a long line of human 




heads ; in those coming towards us, we mark their 
shaven craniums, and unexpressive visages; and in 
those retreating, their dangling tails. 

There is such a common resemblance, that at first 
we seem to meet the same man fifty times in a day, 
and mistakes of such a nature continually occur. 

Vast numbers apparently have nothing to do, but 
these are unemployed for a short time only, and 
amuse themselves in leisure hours by sauntering up 
and down, looking at any thing and every thing, 
and principally at foreigners whom they class under 
the universal head of fanqui's or " foreign devils." 

If we stop in the street for a moment, we are sur- 
rounded instantly by peering fellows, who make 
remarks and witticisms upon our appearance, and 
by taciturn companions, who will stare without 
moving or speaking as long as we stand. 

For a great length of time they have been ac- 
customed to foreigners every day, who yet seem 
never to be able to satisfy the curiosity of the 

If we enter a shop and the keeper for a moment 
neglects to close the little gates in front of it, the 
multitude will circle round the door, three or four 
deep, and fruitless are all efibrts to stare them out of 
countenance. But the beggars, of all the natives, are 
the most persevering rascals. 

They are furnished with little gongs, and standing 
at the door will bang and bang upon them without 
ceasing, until shopmen and customers are glad to be 
rid of the nuisance by throwing out a single cash, 
(about one thousandth of a dollar,) with which they 
depart perfectly satisfied. 


The idle throng, however, is a mere handful com- 
pared to the busy multitude. 

The same active disposition is to be remarked on 
shore as on the river, but in more confined spaces, 
and therefore we cannot observe so much at once. 

The first day that I arrived and went into the 
streets, was one of withering heat, though in the 
last of September, and the people were still in sum- 
mer costume. 

Here rapidly around a sharp corner, came a num- 
ber of cooleys, almost naked, conveying, by the 
means of their long poles, burdens of all kinds and 
sizes ; with this pole across the shoulder, each man 
is ^labled to carry two very heavy chests of tea, or 
several boxes of silk, and all proceed at the kind of 
trot before mentioned. You hear a grunt behind 
you, and glancing quickly over the shoulder, see a 
dozen laborers in single file, bending under their 
weight, and making this noise to warn those walking 
before them. 

If you do not get out of the way, the heavy boxes 
come against you with no slight shock. Long strings 
of these men are often seen, thus laden, who trot and 
stop simultaneously at this expressive grunt, like our 
North American Indian '' ugh." 

Then the people are seen dividing like waves be- 
fore a vessel, and a covered sedan chair containing 
a female or big mandarin, comes down the crowded 
street at a swift pace. 

Some of the thoroughfares are so narrow that a 
chair is often obliged to wait at one end for another 
sedan to pass it, or one is" elevated and the other 
depressed, as fat men on a crossing manage um- 



Then you hear a shriek at your ear, and a fish- 
monger brushes by with two tubs of fish swimming 
or killed. 

The streets are merely alleys filled with shops, 
and look where we may, or go where we list, still 
we are in a dense crowd like that assembled at a 
public execution. 

At some of the doors we see people packing away 
porcelain or lac ware, pasting over the boxes with 
papers, or sewing on matting covers, binding them 
securely with strips of rattan, and cooleys standing 
by, ready to receive and transport them to their 

As the people cannot very well shave their own 
heads, innumerable barbers are needed and to be 
seen at every turning. 

I have read many interesting legends of Spanish 
barbers, but as I never was in Spain, cannot tell 
really if those of China resemble the meddling in- 
quisitive fellows of Old Castile. 

The Asiatic race seemed to me rather an impor- 
tant, dignified, and taciturn assembly, who went 
about the streets with the instruments of their craft, 
but not to seek employment, as if they considered 
shaving a serious matter, and that the professors 
of the art were quite worthy of being solicited to 
practise it. 

The person undergoing the operation, has appar- 
ently something of the same feeling, for he sits down 
on the top of the barber's chest of drawers with a 
very resigned and subdued air. The drawers con- 
taining shaving apparatus, are suspended from one 
end of a pole, and from the other hangs a wooden 


cylinder, vith a metal bottom, containing hot water, 
and heated by a chafing-dish beneath. 

The razor blade is a clumsy looking thing, nearly 
in shape of an equilateral triangle, which, however, 
cuts very well ; the tonsor shaves the head entirely, 
with the exception of the spot of tail hair, the patient, 
meanwhile, holding up a plate to catch the shreds 
that fall ; and it is a singular fact that this hair is 
always preserved, and in a state of decomposition 
serves, with other substances, to manure the land. 
Such is an illustration of one of the many uses of 
common things carried so far among the Chinese, 
whose habits of economy begin where those of other 
nations end. 

The fine hair growing in the ears, and between 
the eyebrows, are shaved by these barbers, who also 
introduce instruments under the eyelids, thus no 
doubt, producing much of the blindness found among 
the people. They also comb out the tail, and plat- 
ting it again with great exactness, so finish the oper- 
ation of shaving and hair dressing. 

The summer dress of the common orders is simple 
in the extreme ; the eternal jacket is looped almost 
invariably over the right breast with little gilded 
balls, and the pantaloons being made very large at 
the middle as well as below, they dexterously wreath 
a portion around the waist, confining it by folds 
instead of following the barbarian custom of wear- 
ing suspenders. 

These dresses are of blue cotton or a stuff resem- 
bling coarse crash. 

Those who are thus attired seldom wear stockings 
or flboeSy but in rainy weather they invest them- 



selves with high-heeled slippers, that clatter on the 
pavement like the sabots of the French peasantry. 

Their enormous summer hats of strips of bamboo, 
are six feet or more in circumference, forming a 
striking feature in the laborers' costume. 

The females of the same rank wear them also, 
and at a short distance in the fields it is difficult to 
distinguish them from the men. But the dress of 
the laborer, however common or ugly it m^y be, 
resembles little that of the higher classes of citizens . 
or civil officers. The great heat of six months of 
the year compels all persons to adopt as light a gar- 
ment as possible, and this is no doubt one of the 
many causes of the general good health of the 
Chinese, their dresses admitting of a perfect devel- 
opment of their limbs. 

A blue or brown silk gown, long and flowing, leav- 
ing the neck bare; short breeches tied at the knees; 
stockings and shoes, make up the ordinary costume. 
But think not, reader, that by stockings are meant 
those knit and close fitting articles of German or 
English importation, with which we associate the 
name of hose ; oh no, those of a Chinese gentleman 
are of the woven cotton, gartered with blue ribbcm, 
and set loosely in a series of graceful wrinkles. 
These are introduced not into highly polished boots, 
but thrust into clumsy shoes of cloth, or satiUi or 
variegated velvet, with enormous white soles. 

The fan is indispensable, for in summer the 
caps of the respectable portions of the community 
are doffed, and their bare heads would be unshel- 
tered from the sun, were it not for the use of this 
graceful article, which is held in the right hand over 


the head. Often it is elegantly embroidered, painted 
with figures and landscape, or inscribed with a 
maxinoi from Confucius. In the warm months the 
grass-cloth, for which the Chinese are justly cele- 
brated, is also used extensively for dresses, and the 
light cool material appears to great advantage od 
the person of a gentleman. j^ 

One of the most elegant of the Chinese that I 
ever saw was a tea merchant, and from the style of 
his dress, its fineness of texture, and the polished 
demeanor of the man, it was evident to the most 
heedless observer that the exquisite existed in China 
as well as elsewhere. 

Over an under-garment of figured silk, flowed 
this graceful grass-cloth toga, looped with gilded 
balls ; and at the right breast was suspended a silk 
purse embroidered with pearls ; a brilliant fan case 
hung at the left side, and as a counterpart, a watch 
and worked pouch appeared upon the right. A 
grass-cloth handkerchief, the finest of China's loom, 
was held in the left hand which was in itself beau« 
tified by nails of several inches growth, the other 
waved a gorgeous fan. The stockings were snowy 
white, and the shoes were black satin. 

His face was remarkably handsome and more ex- 
pressive than the general countenances of his race; 
the pointed jet moustaches were the admiration of 
all the foreign clerks of Canton ; and his fine long 
tail, descending nearly to his feet, an especial object 
of envy to his countrymen. 

The dresses which we have given a description of 
are well adapted for a burning climate, and are 
worn till quite late in the autumn. 



But towards November, when in the square the 
broad ensign of America waves in the blast of the 
north-west monsoon, there is a universal and simul- 
taneous change in the costumes. 

The chief officer of the province puts on a winter 
dress, assumes the skullcap with its scarlet button, 
and all the inferior millions follow his example. 
The appearance of the lower orders is little changed, 
but in the upper the difference is very perceptible. 

The loose gown is now drawn at the waist, by a 
sash with fringed ends hanging down behind ; and 
over this is worn a large cape of figured silk or cloth, 
but usually of furs. 

A mantle made from the skin of a lamb taken 
from its mother before birth, is very highly prized. 
Now it is, that the fan-case, watch, and purse, are 
seen to the best advantage, and the blue cap and 
scarlet button give that finish to the winter garments, 
which those of the summer require for beauty; as 
none but government officers wear hats during the 
hot season, excepting those laborers who are exposed 
to the sun. 

The summer habits of the mandarins are beauti- 
ful. Frequently they wear a long gown of blue 
gauze drawn at the waist, black satin boots, and 
the decorated appendages before mentioned, which 
make altc^ther a very striking show; their hats 
are then of white braid, conical in shape, sur- 
mounted with a ball indicative of rank, and adorned 
with a falling plume of shining scarlet hair. 

During the winter their state robes are stiff with 
gorgeous embroidery. Those of the highest man- 
darins are splendid in the extreme, being worked in 


brilliant hnes on superb silks of the finest texture. 
Their shoes are ornamented also, one of the princi- 
pal figures being the imperial dragon. 

On the back and breast of some dresses is the ^ 
figure of a bird inclosed in a square, and the neck- 
lace of one hundred and eight large court beads of 
bright agate, quartz, or rare perfumed wood, always 
accompanies a state costume. The mandarin's win- 
ter cap is utterly different from that of the summer. 
It is usually of dark blue velvet, fitting close to the 
head, with a broad edge turning up all around, and 
instead of the hair plume, it is furnished with one of 
scarlet silk. 

The ball, always worn except in case of mourning, 
is red, blue, white crystal or gold, according to rank, 
and these varieties with some other insignia, distin- 
guish the nine grades of mandarins. 

The peacock's feather is an honor granted for sig- 
nal merit, and it is worthy of note that such marks 
of favor are seldom or never bestowed unless well 
deserved. The privilege of wearing a state dress 
may indeed be purchased for an immense sum, but 
this confers no rank or honor. The aristocracy of 
talent and not of wealth bears sway in China. 

Judging from the few specimens of splendor to be 
seen in a city so remote from the court as Canton, 
there must be a vast deal of wealth and magnificence 
at the capita], and the accounts of old travellers as 
well as of later embassies, speak of state and pomp 
worthy of so immense an empire. 

Never was there a country in which tailors have 
been as completely snubbed as in China. Not one 
of the class ventures to originate a fashion, for the 




costumes of the nation are regulated at court by a 
board of officers from whose decree no one dares to 

The common order of females dress much like the 
men, but the visitor who walks from the foreign 
factories towards the western part of Canton, passing 
through retired streets only occupied by the houses 
of wealthy Chinese^ will often see ladies walking 
beautifully attired in rich silks, and with children or 
servants in company. 

Their dress conceals the person entirely ; the long 
gown or toga fits close around the neck, and has 
loose sleeves enveloping the hands. 

Their heads are uncovered, and their style of coif- 
fure is singular and usually thought becoming. 
. The front hair of unmarried females is combed 
straight back with the exception of the small portion 
hanging over the forehead. 

The other portion of the hair is combed and braided 
into the tail like the men's, but no part of the female's 
head is shaved. 

When married or shortly before, the whole hair is 
combed up, and a false piece set on the back of the 
head, fastened by clasps and pins of gold, or other 
less precious material, according to the wealth of the 
fair one. A beautiful ornament is sometimes worn 
by rich women, representing a bird with extended 
wings, which, formed of gold or silver filagree, stud- 
ded with pearls and supported by light wires tremb- 
ling with the slightest motion, seems to hover over 
the bead of the lady. 

What need of the long wide pantaloons of the 
Chinese ladies. To conceal their feet? They have 


none for service, and hobble along more awkwardly 
than a child first learning to wall^ Soon as the 
female child is born, its feet are inclosed with shoes 
and bound firmly round and round, so that no growth 
can ensue. Nature endeavoring to have its way, 
can only produce exquisite torture as each attempt 
proves useless. 

How these females ever learn to stand or move is 
strange, yet, as we before observed, they may some- 
times be seen in the streets supporting their trembling 
limbs with a staff. 

Models in clay of the contracted feet, painted flesh 
color and set into shoes of the same size as those 
actually worn, are sold in Canton as curiosities. 

The large toe fits into the point of the shoe, and 
the others, instead of being in their natural position, 
are jammed and driven into the side of (he foot, ap- 
pearing one directly behind the other. It is as though 
the foot was cut off just below the ankle joint and 
the stump sharpened to a point. 

This custom is exclusively Chinese, and is not fol- 
lowed even by the Mauchou Tartars, who, being the 
last Asiatic conquerors of China, have adopted many 
of its customs, and whose emperor now wields his 
despotic sceptre over one half of the human race. 

It would be a vain effort to attempt to describe all 
the scenes and individual objects of the streets of 
Canton. One might observe for years, see something 
new every day, in narrating forget to speak of many, 
and then for all his trouble be requited with, 
"What! don't he say any thing about so and so? 
Well then his book is'nt worth much.". 

The manners and customs of the Chinese are in a 


great measure peculiar to themselves ; they had their 
origin long centuries since, they are unchanged, and 
are still unchanging. We see them in many respects 
the same as in the days of Confucius, and the histpri- 
ans of the empire can write pf former ages with more 
absolute certainty than writers of other countries 
can treat of the shifting phases of society at the pre- 
sent day. 

We Americans are so amazing smart, that just 
now all the little boys get ahead in the world much 
faster than former generations, and as a natural con- 
sequence know much more than their parents. 

How much good would result if some of these 
precocious young gentlemen would take a voyage to 
China, and notice the reverential awe instilled into 
the child's mind by the almost absolute will of the 
parent. So far from age being disregarded, it is con- 
sidered worthy of all respect, and honored with 
appropriate ceremonies at stated occasions. 

Though women in many instances are slighted 
and disregarded, though a man may treat his wife 
unkindly, and no one takes her part, yet he is bound 
by every sacred obligation to pay devotion to his 
aged mother, to minister to her comforts, and follow 
her counsels. 

One day, in walking about the streets of Canton, I 
wandered into Tonshing's hong. Yungcung, a per- 
son about forty years of age, entertained me very 
politely, and as I rose to depart asked me to come 
and see some of the preparations that he was making 
in order to celebrate with becoming splendor the 
birth-day of his mother, who was shortly to arrive at 
the age of eighty years. I at once assented, he led 


me into another apartment, and showed me many 
presents which his friends had kindly sent him in 
aid of the jubilee. The old lady was to be decked 
in»her chiefest apparel, and Yungcung and his friends 
were to have all the enjoyment they deserved, and 
by various acts of ceremony manifest their reverence 
for virtuous old age. 

He pulled out and displayed to me all kinds of 
fireworks, squibs that would cut as many didos as 
harlequin, fountains that would spout jets of fire, 
and rockets to emulate those of Yauxhall Gardens. 
He had candles of vast sizes and different colors, and 
moulded into fasfastic and beautiful shapes. 

There were long scrolls of vivid satins printed 
beautifully with favorite maxims in gilded charac- 
ters, which were intended to hang in the ancestral 
hall ; he had splendid embroidered dresses in scarlet 
and gold, as well as immense pieces of tapestry 
worked in the same manner, and stiff with brilliant 
adornment, representing human figures in native 
costume, and also various animals. 

This looked like child's play, and yet Yungcung 
seemed as earnest as if he was getting up this show 
to please his children, and I believe enjoyed it as 
much as his mother, for whom it was intended. 

Any Chinese youngster who dared to criticise the 
cut of his father's habiliments and speak of him as 
^' the Governor," so far from being tolerated in good 
society, would find himself quickly pounced upon, 
soundly bambooed before a civil magistrate, and 
paraded through the streets with the nature of his 
offences inscribed on little flags fastened to sticks run 
through his ears. 




The sexes in China live mostly apart; The women 
are uneducated generally. Some of the courtezans 
of the cities are well taught and skilled in luxurious 
and fascinating accomplishments, among others they 
sing and play upon musical instruments. Brothers 
and sisters after a certain age bid good-bye to 
each other, and though they meet of course, in the 
bosom of the family, they have little social inter- 
course. The Chinese husband goes out into the world 
and attends to his business, and amuses himself as he 
pleases, but the wife must stay at home and be con- 
tented to eat separately and attend to her children ; 
or if her husband is rich, dress in fine style and make 
her female neighbors cry their eyes out with envy. 

Polygamy is sanctioned, yet a man loses caste in 
some degree for every additional wife he takes, and 
should he venture on half a dozen his friends would 
cut him. 

An old compradore was telling me once about his 
domestic felicity, he said I hab got one wife, one olo 
ting, good for noting. 

Then why don't you marry another? I asked. 
Oh, said he, no two no good. 

A great point in Chinese happiness is the number 
of children the fortunate man may boast of. The 
principle they go upon is, in the words of Shaks- 
peare, "The world must be peopled." 

A man with half a dozen sons is wealthy, but 
with the same number of daughters, his poverty is a 
general subject of pity. In speaking of his offspring 
one will sometimes say, that he has three children, 
and if you ask if any are daughters, he will answer 
yes, four, meaning seven in all, though he does not 
consider the girls worth mentioning. 


Shonld his wife prove childless, he eagerly seizes 
the opportunity of putting her aside and marrying 

The manners of the Chinese, those of the mid- 
dling and upper classes, are very pleasing to a 
stranger. The low laborers are brutish enough, but 
among the better bred a gentility of manner is strik- 
ingly apparent. 

When you meet a Chinese gentleman, he folds his 
hands and shakes them at you, saying, chin chin, 
words of the Canton-Chinese-Anglo jargon, signi- 
fying welcome, or thank you, or farewell, accord- 
ing to the occasion. 

If your visit is one of ceremony, he is careful to 
keep his cap on while you uncover, and seats you 
of course on his left hand. 

He is so courtier-like, that he will not touch the 
chair a moment before you, and if he perceives that 
he is doing so he instantly rises a little. Then, per- 
haps, he greats you to sweetmeats and tea. The tea 
is always delicious. It is not contaminated by 
cream and sugar, he would not condescend to such 
a barbarian custom. There are no saucers for the 
cups to stand upon, but you will see that they are 
on top of the cup, to keep in the aroma of the clear 
amber colored beverage. 

And so in China you will see a hundred reverses 
to European customs. 

I have spoken of the practice of keeping pre- 
cocious youths in subjection, the Celestials fully 
appreciating the wisdom of Solomon if no other 
portion of holy writ. 

A man dresses like a woman, and uses a fan even 


moce; he carries his watch on the right side, and 
instead of leaving his knife and chopsticks on the 
tahle, he puts them into a little case and bears them 
about with him; he uncovers his head in summer 
time, he begins to read a book at its natural end, he 
never cuts the leaves of it, he writes perpendicularly, 
h^ eats fruit first, and soup last, at feasts of cere- 

He whitens the soles of his shoes instead of black- 
ing them, he puts on boots, and discards shoes when 
he wishes to be extremely elegant in company, and 
old men play like little boys, and little boys look as 
dignified as judges. 

On one occasion I saw an instance of Chinese 
contrariety that certainly put to flight any of the 
recreations of old men in my own country, for as 
some of us were warming ourselves in a cool No- 
vember afternoon with the primitive and healthful 
sport of leap-frog, much to the delight of herds of 
Chinese, to our inexpressible surprise, we «aw three 
grave citizens whose united ages were certainly over 
a century and a half, become so carried away by 
the spirit of the game, that they must join in it 
themselves. They were men of respectability, they 
were dressed in fine silk, and their beards and mous- 
taches were combed precisely, and in a moment two 
of them stood at the prescribed distance from each 
other, and placed their hands upon their knees; 
while the third, a gentleman near threescore years, 
indulged in a flying run, and would have cleared 
his companion's head in gallant style, only his long 
gown took such firm hold of the other's back that 
both came to the ground, like horse and rider in a 
steeple chase. 


Not at all disheartened, they continued the game 
for half an hour or so, and though falling at full 
length five times out of six, expressed themselves as 
highly pleased with such novel and invigorating 

In the mean time several urchins looked on with- 
out either daring to laugh or join in the pastime. 

There is a great deal going on in the open air to 
attract a multitude of loungers.* 

One old man in China street was always sur- 
rounded. He had a little table with a cage contain- 
ing two canaries, and also a pack of cards. He 
would cover the cage completely, allow a bystander 
to choose any card, and then shuffle it with the 
pack so adroitly that it was impossible to follow. 
He would then open the cage, the little bird would 
hop out and select the card at once, never failing to 
pull the right one. I never could detect the slightest 
collusion between the bird and the man, who was 
one of those minor jugglers so frequently seen in 
Chinese cities and villages. 

We see in the very streets proofs of the general 
diffusion of the common elements of education, judg- 
ing from the number of the lowest cooleys who stop 
to read the chops or placards pasted upon the walls 
of the houses, and who congregate around a vender 
of books who sits upon the ground with his little 
collection before him, offering, showing, and explain- 

Near the end of old China street, a number of 
poor women may be observed at any time sewing 
and mending clothes. 

They nearly all have small feet, and it is an error 



to suppose that this beauty is confined exclusively 
to the upper classes. 

As the rich women are not expected to work much, 
and go out but little, they universally follow the 
custom ; but as the poorer females toil like men, it 
is absolutely necessary that their limbs should be 
unrestrained. These seamstresses wear enormous 
spectacles, giving them an owlish appearance. And 
that old fellow opposite to them looks more owlish 
still, as he wears them while tinkering upon a broken 
lamp shade. 

He has the art of riveting glass, or earthen ware, 
not understood by a barbarian, for he rivets the 
glass on one side only, broken crockery is so neatly 
mended that the cracks are hardly perceptible, and 
the metal fastenings are visible only on the back of 
the plate. 

He drills a number of little holes half through 
the substance, hammers in the tacks, and lo! the 
broken article is sound again. So neatly does he 
work, that the fragments of the crystal of a watch 
may be joined. 

Close by are a squad of gamesters gambling for 
confectionary, and a vile bigotted looking Buddhist 
priest is watching them with intense interest. 

So after passing through the cat market, where 
numbers of doomed grimalkins are howling piteous- 
ly in wicker baskets, we go to the factories, and 
ponder upon our first glance at the Celestials over a 
cup of aromatic ouloong. 




Shoppinq in Canton is not like that pastime, which 
ladies in search of the picturesque are so fond of 
pursuing in our own good cities. A stranger -in 
China may go from one store to another every day 
in the year, and never meet a female face in any of 
them. Men, none but men, he sees at every turn. 
This might seem excusable in a tailor's stall, but it 
is too bad when carried into every trade. 

The streets, as mentioned before, are extremely 
narrow. A broad one is no wider than a common 
alley, and a narrow one might be choked with a 
single dry goods box. On entering a street, one is 
completely at a loss to know where to find what he 
wants. The shops are uniform in size and appear- 
ance. They have no broad plate glass windows 
for the tempting show of goods *' selling off at cost," 
and besides, the extreme similarity of many of the 
dealers themselves is not a little puzzling. We can 
tell what commodities are for sale within, only by 
peeping in at the open doors in a very suspicious 
and burglar like manner. 

The shops are all built upon a line, principally of 
wood, sometimes the lower story is of blue brick, 
and with the doors raised a single step from the 
street Not nnfrequently the river, which at its 


mean level is only a few feet below the street, rises 
and inundates all that part of the city fronting upon 
its banks. Then the sampans drive a profitable 
business. Every avenue is converted into a canal, 
every pedestrian into an amphibious animal, and the 
foreigners, whose hongs are biiilt in separate parts 
of the city, take boats to go from their bed-rooms 
to breakfast, and throughout the day pursue their 
business by skimming over the water, and floating 
into a silk or tea store, to make their bargains. 

•For the convenience of outside barbarians, who 
are unskilled in the mystic letters of Celestial lan- 
guage, the shopmen mostly have little lacquered 
boards to hang up on the posts on the side of the 
doot, with their names and professions in English 
written thereon. Some few of the lowest, aiming to 
be facetious, assume such names as '^ Tom Boy," 
^^ Jack of all ttades," &c., but such are not respec- 
table dealers, and are generally confined to the par* 
liens of Hog Lane. 

On entering a shop one afternoon, I found a good 
honest fellow, of whom I had made sundry pur- 
chases, surrounded by a crowd of admiring quid- 
nuncs, and laboring at something quite out of the 
common way. He had tucked up his sleeves, 
squared himself over the counter, and with brush 
in hand was writing in ^^Angliss" a card for his 
signr-board. He prided himself upon his critical 
accuracy in the Euglish tongue, and was showing 
his companions that it was well enough to know 
something even beyond the Flowery Kingdom. As 
far as the letters themselves went it was well enough, 
except that the middle of the words were decorated 


with capitals, which gave them a slightly triangular 
appearance. At length the- mighty work was done. 
He handed it to me with an air of complete satis^ 
faction, and I read, " Tychong eaney think and 
steaks." The first word was his name ; the second 
imported that his collection was complete, and the 
last meant that walking canes, or sticks, were added 
to the wonderful assortment. I told him that with 
one or two alterations it would do admirably, and 
spelling the words correctly, I offered at the same 
time to alter the structure of the sentence. But no; 
he was gratified at the interest I took in him, thanked 
me for writing his card properly, but would not 
have its syntax altered for the world. I begged for 
thie original, and still keep it among my autographs. 
The shops have generally a little roof over their 
doors to cast off the rain, and with the exception of 
the entrance are closely boarded, and almost uni- 
versally painted green. They are lighted from the 
top, and are two stories in height ; though the sec« 
ond floor has sometimes latticed windows. The 
skylight is of glass, with an outer covering formed 
of the laminae of oyster shells, both coverings being 
managed by cords within reach of the shopman. 
The second floor is only partially laid, and has a 
gallery running round it, which overlooks the shop. 
In this story the walls are usually panelled with 
wood, decorated with carvings and painted monsters. 
In the lower story the goods are displayed on shelves 
or in glass cases on two sides and behind the shop- 
man, who has his counter opposite to the door. 
There sits in state the little despot of his trade, and 

scrutinizes with a skilful eye all who approach. If 



one comes in only to look at goods, and not to pur^ 
chase, he is polite, but does not trouble himself 
greatly to open cases or come from behind his coan- 
ter. He names prices carelessly, and says, ^'No 
likee, no occasion takee." But if one ventures in- 
side who really carries purchasing in his looks, the 
scene is changed. The shopman darts like lightning 
out of his hiding place, calls his assistant, tugs 
violently at the window cord to show his goods to 
best advantage, bangs to the door^ of his shop, and 
dives down to the very darkest corners of his cases, 
and shows every thing with the greatest good humor 
ten thousand times. Then he opens a big book oa 
the counter, and sets down the mark which the 
purchaser gives him to put on his cases. Next be 
seizes his instrument of writing. His pen is not 
Gillott's Patent Steel, or the Richelieu Diamond. 
It is a fine brush ending in a point, and set in* 
to a cutting of bamboo, which he holds perpen- 
dicularly between his thumb and two forefingers. 
Then dipping a piece of India ink into water be 
rubs it upon a stone slab, which is 'always at bis 
elbow, and which has a slanting surface, so that the 
black fluid runs into a little groove on one side ef it 
With this he puts down in a long column a list of 
the articles bought, annexing the price of each, and 
then sums up the whole with another instrument be 
has. Every shopkeeper has an abacus, called in 
Chinese a swanpan, or swungpan, consisting of a 
number of balls on wires, and set in a square mould- 
ing like billiard counts. These balls are indicative 
of units, tens, hundreds, &c., and with it any cal- 
culations may be made with perfect accuracy, and 


as rapidly as a European can solve them with a 
slate and pencil. After the purchase is made, the 
shopman indulges in a little conversation not entirely 
connected with trade, and as this book may give a 
few hints to those about to visit China, it may be as 
well to offer an illustration of the Canton jargon, 
which every European * has to learn. 

He enters a shop and is saluted with " Chin-chin," 
as good morning. He replies in the same words, and 
is then asked ^^No want chee something." He an- 
swers, " No have occasion now, bym by shall want- 
cbee«" Then says the Chinaman, '' Hab got all no 1 
tingSi no 1 cheap. Missee — hab bye all of me, he 
hab takee home lasty years chow chow tings, come 
back Canton side dis year, bye alia me, no bye any 
one else." Next he asks whose house you stay at, 
and then says, '^ Miss^ Oliphant, Missee Wetmore, 
Missee Russell alia good ; hab done muchee pigion 
(business) with me." 

It is unnecessary to go farther with this nonsense ; 
it is ridiculous in the extreme, and the natives of all 
other countries that come in contact with the Eng- 
lish, speak much more distinctly than the Chinese. 
It is said that the structure of their own language 
conforms with this jargon. Here, as in Java, Eng- 
lish is the only foreign tongue spoken, and I know 
nothing more absurd than a dialogue between a na- 
tive and a newly imported Parisian, attached to the 
French embassy, which I had the chance to hear. 
He had been but a few days in China, and found to 

*I use the term Earopean for conyentence, as applicable to all 


his horror that the language he had vilified in Paris 
was the only one that could serve him in Canton. 
Of course, neither could understand the other, and 
until I acted as interpreter, the Frenchman had thun* 
dered forth in his native tongue, as if speaking in the 
tribune of the National Assembly, and the puzzled 
Chinaman gave utterance to A '^ Hi Yah," and floun<- 
dered in a slough of his own gutterals. 

On parting after a bargain, the worthy dealer puts 
on a long face and says, '' I no hab catchee mucbee 
ploffit dis time," though the rascal knows he has. 
And, finally, he bows and orders the cooley to ar- 
range the shop and pack the purchases. He reluc<r 
tantly pulls open the doors, and then mounts behind 
the counter, where he sits chuckling at his success 
until another barbarian enters. 

Any thing rather out of the common way these 
shrewd shopkeepers will insist comes from Nanking, 
and that it ivould be fruitless to seek another like it ; 
while any thing absolutely unique and scarce comes 
from Souchow, that being the Mecca of Chinese imag- 
ination. They also do not like to alter any thing if 
they can help it, and a dealer of whom we purchased 
some fans gave us trouble in changing them. He 
always endeavored to throw the blame on his infericnr 
workmen, when we rebuked him for carelessness. 
He would stamp up and down his shop, whisk about 
his tail, and pretending to lash himself into uncon* 
trollable rage, burst forth with ^' 1 have speakee that 
man, I have speakee him, he one grand foolo ; shall 
makee alia proper, can do, can do." 

The intercourse with shopkeepers I found much 
more pleasant than I had anticipated. I do not re- 


member to have been cheated in any article I bought, 
but I would have been willing to lose a trifle occa- 
sionally in preference to being debarred the pleasure 
of converse with the funny dealers. I much 
to laugh at as well as to admire; their queer ways 
of saying and doing things were a source of constant 
amusement ; and their industry ^nd ingenuity never 
ceased to excite my wonder. 

I have spoken of the shop doors being closed when 
a customer comes in. This is almost invariably 
done, not only to shut out the idle rabble that con- 
gregate four deep around the entrance, as if a for- 
eigner were a monster; but 'there seems also in 
Canton to be a jealousy between customers, and one 
does not like to make a bargain while his neighbor 
knows exactly what he is buying, and. what he pays. 
This suspicious custom arises partly from the very 
small size of the shops, where two persons cannot 
at the same time purchase without mutual observa« 
tion. But in the exclusively Chinese streets, where 
no English is spoken by the dealers, there are no 
doors at all to the stores, the whole front is open to 
view, and the Chinese themselves being no object of 
attraction to their countrymen, can buy without 
molestation. This apparent invitation to thieves is 
obviated by the streets being cleared shortly after 
nightfall, and closed by strong gates at either end, 
which are sometimes guarded. As soon as twilight 
asserts her reign, those busy avenues, all day the 
highways of thronging life, are utterly deserted ; no 
knot of brawlers disturb the peace, and every one 
seems to have vanished like a shadow. 

Let U8 enter New China street at about ten o'clock, 



the time of Chinese breakfast, though they rise aad 
work for hours before. We pause ia front of Choog' 
shiug's variety store, and observe that the shop-doors 
are put to, indicating that business must yield to the. 
pleasure of eating, and that the inmates have not the 
slightest idea of being disturbed at their meals. But 
for once, we will violate the rules of etiquette and 
go in. Chongshing and his sons are about sitting 
down to a circular table, and do not seem disposed 
to pay us much attention. We hear a sound of 
something hissing, and presently a servant from the 
back room brings in half a dozen or more bowls 
filled with hot boiled rice, or fish prepared in some 
simple way, or vegetables; tea is served in little 
cups; the chopsticks are pulled from their cases; 
and the battl^ begins. Chopsticks to a European 
are one of the seventy times seven wonders of the 
world. They are from six to eight inches in length, 
perfectly round and smooth, and about the size of 
ryestraws. Held between the thumb and two fore* 
fingers, they would seem, at first sight, about as use* 
less as knitting needles, but one no longer doubts 
their efficiency, when he sees the prodigies of devas- 
tation performed by their aid. So dexterous is the 
Chinaman, that he can pick up a grain of rice be- 
tween their rounded, ends as easily as it can be lifted 
on a knife blade; but he does not usually stop to eat 
in such delicate, lady-like style. Chongshing and 
party wash down their meal by such unnumbered 
cups of tea, that Johnson himself would be put in 
the shade. They drank it without sugar or cream; 
they would spoil its flavor. 
Now the breakfast is almost over, each has seized 



hift last bovl of rice, and this is the moment for the 
paintv. Each bowl is elevated to the mouth, each 
head thrown back, each tail hangs straight down, 
and into the distended jaws the nimble chopsticks 
shovel the rice in the most marvellous manner. 
Then, as the bowls are emptied, above each mouth 
appears a little hill of the white vegetable, a gurgling 
sound is heard, and the rice hills sink out of sight as 
if swallowed by a quicksand. After this feat the 
party come to, and setting down the bowls look into 
them once more, sign profoundly, and all at once 
become aware of our presence, jumping up from the 
table, ask if we too have had breakfast, and being 
wide awake to chaffer on every article. 

Sometimes I would enter a shop while the repict- 
abie proprietor was playing the host to a circle of 
friends. They would be talking, as I suppose, on 
the current events of the day, but as politics are no( 
discussed in China, they never fell into disputes 
about the tariff or the sub-treasury. They would 
make way very politely for me, and go on smoking 
their pipes, and uttering their wise saws in the alter- 
nate grunts and sharp notes of which the Chinese 
language seems composed. 

Their pipes are many in variety of shape and size. 
The most common kind are made of bamboo, with 
an ivory mouth-piece, and a bowl so small as to 
disgust a lover of the meerschaum. The squad of 
smokers replenish it from the tobacco pouch sus- 
pended at their belts, and when they have done, 
deposit their pipes in a square wooden box that 
stands on one side of the shop. 

Among the knot of assembled worthies, the for- 


eigner is often surprised to find the master of the 
establishment himself taking a quiet whiff, not%t all 
distinguished from the rest of the party, while the 
lively, bustling salesman, whom he has always 
addressed as principal, turns out to be only next to 
headman. There seems to be little of that vanity 
which often prompts persons in this country to push 
themselves forward and show off with the assumed 
dignity of a bank clerk or a steam-boat captain, 
while at the same time they have sufiicient self- 
respect, and if you make a purchase, and a bundle 
is to be carried home, though the shopman may 
accompany you, yet his cooley carries the pack- 

'" I do not know that the tradesmen are any more 
religious than their representatives in other coun- 
tries. Indeed, the Chinese seem to be people of a 
convenient and easy faith, they do not mortify them- 
selves by long fasts, or disfigure themselves by long 
faces ; but in almost every shop you find a shrine 
quite Catholic in its aspect. A niche, large or small, 
according to the taste of the worshipper, is usually 
in the upper or lower story. Sometimes it contains 
a painted image of hideous deity gaudily vested in 
gilded splendor. Around the edge of the recess are 
sentences of a devotional character, and before the 
image are lamps constantly burning. 

The shops in Old and New China street are those 
in which Europeans principally deal, and here one 
finds almost every article produced under the ChL 
nese sun. Here he may pick and choose among 
fifty names, such as Cumchong, or Ahtong, or 
Lunchong, or Lungshing, or Ahning, or Mahnhig, 



or Wingshingy or Howqua, or Tinqua, or Luequa, or 
Hipqua, or Crouqua, or forty others, " too numerous 
to mention." 

We will begin at the right hand side of Old China 
streei, at Cumchong's procelain shop. It is a small 
place, about ten feet square, but a great deal of 
business is done in that little spot. Cumchong him- 
self is an old gentleman, quite advanced in life, and 
does not attend to the customers personally. He has 
a purser of about sixty, with a white beard add 
moustaches, who is very assiduous, and will take 
down every piece of China ware on the shelves if you 
seem inclined to buy. As to the manufacture of 
porcelain ware, I can say nothing as I did not see it. 
The factories are mostly in the north of China, 
remote from Canton, so that a dealer, if he cannot 
supply an article, always has the excuse that he 
must send to Nanking for it 

China vases are very conspicuous, and are many 
Wl shape, size, and diversity of decoration. There 
are usually three sizes ; the smallest are about two 
feet high, and cost from sixteen to twenty dollars ; 
the second are three and a half feet high, priced at 
fifty dollars ; the third are monsters, as high as a 
tall man, and valued at two hundred and fifty 
dollars. They are usually circular with small necks, 
terminating in a trumpet shape, with ornamental 
ears on either side. Sometimes these pendants are 
formed in shape of dragons clinging to the vase, or 
birds to be found in no naturalist's collection. There 
is a great difference in the texture, if I may so speak, 
of the ware. The best sort is pure white, and rings 
with, a clefir sound, and the painting is laid on with 


great care. They are ornamented with scenes of 
battle or court life in brilliant colors, or there are 
birds, butterflies and flowers, and the imperial 
dragon. The hues are enamelled on the surface of 
the vase in some cases, and stand out in perceptible 
relief. Vast numbers of the vases that come to 
America are of ordinary workmanship, but the finest 
varieties may be found by hunting with some care. 

Those of the second size, which display large 
isolated figures, male and female, in the gorgeous 
costumes of. ancient China, are very beautiful. 
Many of the common kind are too crowded with 
figures to look well. Six-sided jars are very elegant 
and rather uncommon. On two of the faces are 
depicted scenes in gardens or halls, and the other four 
are covered with brilliant insects and flowers, very 
gracefully arranged. 

Cumchong's great business is with the super- 
cargoes of foreign vessels, though he seems as anxious 
to sell a single cup as a hundred boxes of chinaware. 
He knows exactly the requisite pieces for different 
sized dinner sets, he suggests that they should be 
large and complete, thinks there will be more profit 
than in small ones, and inquiring the length of the 
ship's stay, says all will be ready "inside six week." 

There are two kinds of China ware used for din- 
ner service. The more common is known as the 
Canton stone china. The plates are small and thick| 
and the pattern seems to have a blurred appearance. 
There is always a tree with leaves upon it like 
cherries, growing out of the top of a temploi and 
three men passing over a triangular bridge, with 
both ends in the water. But it is nevertheless a 


very excellent and useful description of ware, and is 
exported in millions of sets. The other kind is much 
more costly, known as the Nanking stone china. 
This is of a beautiful pattern, generally in blue and 
white, with sometimes a gold edge, and is very ex- 
tensively used. There are also sets in gold and 
colors, for desert and tea, which are extremely 
beautiful without being as costly, and as the Chinese 
keep a sample or '' muster," as they call it, of every 
pattern ever made, the like may always be obtained. 
When ware is purchased of Cumchong, he has it 
carefully packed in boxes filled with straw, and 
marks each with the owner's initials, beside having 
the boxes firmly nailed and bound, round with slips 
of split rattan. It is then sent to the hongs, and 
there put on board the chop boats and conveyed to 
the ships. 

One would wonder how Cumchong could fill so 
many orders, for his store would hardly hold a 
thousand dollars' worth, but he one day invited us 
to go and see his large packhouse on the edge of the 
city. He sent his purser to guide us, and we follow- 
him for upwards of half an hour, through a labyrinth 
of alleys, and at last came to a warehouse that look- 
ed respectable in point of size. Here he had vast 
quantities of chinaware, stored until it should be 
wanted. As it came in from the north, it was de- 
posited here, and the shop was only like a counting 
room with samples of the articles he dealt in. 

The flower-pots in China are often very handsome. 
They are usually six-sided, painted in a lively man- 
ner, and highly polished. Some of them are made 
of great size, large enough for orange trees. 


A very handsome ornament for a hall or garden 
is the porcelain seat. This is either like a barrel or 
hexagonal, and is white and blue, or white and 
green, or gold and variegated, as the taste of the 
owner may fancy. It is perforated on the top and 
around the sides with small interstices. 

Toilet sets, fine enough for a princess, are also 
found at Cumchong's ; Tantalus' cupis, with a very 
good image of the baffled prisoner; boxes for per- 
fumery ; mugs with gay pictures to please children ; 
little nests of cups that look as if they were intended 
for the different sized members of a large family ; 
cups with saucers, according to custom, to go on the 
top and not underneath ; flower stands and allumette 
stands; mighty punch bowls, splendid with orna- 
ment, deep enough to drown care, and so beaming as 
to warm the heart of a misanthrope ; and teapots so 
snug that a bachelor or old maid would fall in love 
with them. Cumchong and his purser are both 
honest old fellows. They come to "chin chin " you 
at new year, and make you a present at parting, if 
you have bought of them. When I came away I 
asked for the dealer's autograph, which he obliging* 
ly gave me, together with my own name in the best 
of Chinese calligraphy. 

On the other side of the way is a jeweller's shop. 
This is a dingy place; the entrance is narrow ; the 
dealer looks suspiciously at us as we enter ; he pulls 
out his gems with caution. We see no very valua- 
ble jewels, but he has beautiful samples of agate, 
and semi-transparent stones which he says are from 
Bombay. He has also a clear blue glass with gold 
fused into it, which he pretends is of immense rarity. 


It is like the Venitian manufacture. He can cut and 
set gems very beautifully, and his gold is far more 
pare than that of Europe. The workmanship is of 
superior order, and cheap in comparison with foreign 
competition, for labor in China costs little. 

A silversmith's is near by. This, too, is rather a 
dark spot, but does not have quite so much of the 
Sfaylock appearance as the last named place. He can 
manufacture any article, from a salt spoon to a ser- 
vice of plate, in the most elegant manner. He will 
line a pitcher with its coating of gold, or produce a 
favorite pattern of forks at very short notice. The 
silver is remarkably fine, and the cost of working it 
it is a mere song. Its intrinsic value is of course the 
same as it is in Europe, but the poor creatures who 
perspire over it are paid only about enough to keep 
the breath in their bodies. Filagree baskets or card 
cases seem to be favorites with these silversmiths. 
It is much cheaper to have a splendid service of 
plate in China than in any other country, and many 
Europeans send out orders through supercargoes. 

Connected with these craftsmen we may mention 
the Sycee, the purest medium of exchange in the 
world. It contains ninety-eight per cent, of pure 
metal, and is shaped more like a Chinese shoe than 
any thing else. It is quickly oxidized on the surface, 
and looks like a lump of lead. But when it is to be 
proved, a shroflF or assayer hammers an iron point 
into it about half an inch, and it is bright enough 
below the surface, like a cheerful temper hid under 
a grave countenance. 

Those shroffs are the keenest detectors of counter- 


feit dollars to be found on earth. Any one in the 
hongs hearing the chink of money, may look out 
of the windows and see them. If ten thousand 
dollars are to be counted, these fellows squatting 
down in a heap have full baskets of them brought 
to judgment placed on one side, and on the other 
empty baskets stand destined for the genuine and 
the doubtful shiners. Then clutching a handful, 
they clink one piece against another, and in a wink 
separate the chaff from the wheat with unerring 
accuracy. A hundred thousand dollars are often 
thus counted and scrutinized in next to no time. 

Here at the corner of the street is a -money 
changer. His stock in trade looks prodigious, but 
does not amount to a great deal. He has an enor- 
mous pile of " cash " on his table, and he changes 
and sells them, always looking for a premium. 

Cash are copper coin about as large as a cent, 
rudely stamped with two or three characters, and 
with a square hole cut in the centre of each one. 
Their value fluctuates, but generally averages one 
thousand to a dollar, and they are strung together in 
long rows. Sometimes one will see a cooley bend- 
ing beneath the weight of them, though their amount 
may not be over five dollars. I once was present at 
rather a funny scene. A gentleman resident was 
walking with me, and was importuned by one of 
the poor outcasts, all filth and misery, that meet you 
at every step in Canton, and as he had no money 
with him, he picked a string of ten cash from the 
board of one of the brokers and threw it to the beg- 
gar. It was not more than a cent, but the shark 
who owned it insisted on being remunerated, and 


held the gentleman's umbrella as security until we 
reached the hong, and obtained the requisite number 
of cash from the compradore. 

The ivory carvers form a numerous and prominent 
class among the artisans, and their work is fully 
deserving of the high encomiums that have always 
been bestowed upon it. It is a proof of the jealousy 
that actuates the Chinese, that their mode of work- 
ing ivory is just as much a profound secret now as 
it was five centuries ago. The oldest residents have 
tried to bribe the workers, but in vain; they are 
true to themselves. Many persons imagine that the 
carvers have some method of softening the ivory ; 
but if this were so, chemistry, which in Europe is 
so generally applied to the useful arts, would point 
out the method to skilful workmen, and the carv- 
ings of China would soon be rivalled. From what 
I have seen of Chinese skill, I do not believe that 
the material is softened at all, hut that it is cut into 
with sharp instruments, and the art handed down 
from father to son has become perfect. The chess- 
men are often elaborate, and much finer specimens 
than are ever sent to this country are to be found in 
Canton. A set which brings twenty or thirty dol- 
lars in the United States, may be obtained in China 
for eight or ten, and from this one may judge of the 
magnificence of a set, which was in the possession 
of Mouchong Gouqua, and for which he asked one 
hundred and fifty dollars. The men were as usual 
white and red, all clothed in the ancient dress of 
China, one half in position and attitude of attack, 
the others standing on the defensive. The largest 
pieces were a foot high, and every one was carved 


in the most wonderful manner ; there was even the 
expression of fierceness and surprise visible in their 
features. Old Mouchong was very proud of this, 
and had been in vain solicited to sell it for one hun- 
dred and twenty dollars. 

Ivory boats also, are seen in the shops, the hull, 
the masts, ropes, men, and every part complete, in 
the white material. Then there are splendid card- 
cases with scenes in social life cut upon their sides, 
and flowers and animals around the borders. Fans 
of the most exquisite and delicate work, that look 
when spread like the finest lace ; draughts so beau- 
tiful that you hesitate to play with them, every 
piece cut with a diflerent pattern on each side; 
boxes worked as minutely as the carvings in the 
Alhambra; napkin rings in every stage of orna- 
ment ; and balls, red or white, sometimes as many 
as seventeen in number, one within the other, each 
carved on its whole circumference. 

Centric and excentric scribbled o'er, 
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb. 

And even in other materials, wood for example, 
there are no such carvers in the world as the 
Chinese. In their houses, their furniture, thCir tem- 
ples, and especially in the stands for articles of 
virtu, one is astonished at the intricacy, the beauty, 
and the caprice displayed. A cup of bronze or horn, 
which terminates almost in, a point, is so nicely bal- 
anced on these carved stands, that though it looks 
as if a breath would upset it, yet it remains poised 
in safety. 

A little further on we come to a store where mat- 


ting is sold. This looks more like home than any 
that we have seen, for the long rolls put us in mind 
of darkened parlojs in summer time. If you are a 
supercargo and wish your ship to fly home lightly, 
Manhing, whose shop this is, will take you to his 
packhouse, containing a hundred thousand rolls of 
matting, and let you choose to suit your fancy. 

Here, close by, fans of every description are 
brought from the factories for sale. The most com- 
mon kind are of blackened oil paper stretched on the 
fibres of a slip of bamboo, split where the handle 
joins the paper; costing only about half a cent 
apiece, and packed in boxes containing five hundred, 
they are sent away much thicker than the leaves in 
Valombrosa. Others are of feathers white as snow, 
with ivory handles and silken tassels. Others, 
again, are made of silk stretched upon a frame in- 
scribed on one side with Chinese characters and on 
the other with groups of figures, their dresses formed 
of various pieces of colored silk, and their hands and 
faces of painted ivory. 

Here at the corner of the fish and crab market is 
Chyloong's preserve shop. Wampee jelly and dry 
sugared ginger or in syrup, oranges, limes, young 
shoots of bamboo, delicious to the taste, and pot 
pourris of good things are spread on his shelves. 

Who Yune's grass-cloth shop is at your elbow. 
We go up stairs and look at his nice goods, and 
hang fondly over the long dress patterns which are as 
fine and soft as linen cambric. If you buy of him 
freely, he sends his cooley round to the hong, and 
begs your acceptance of a dozen pocket handker- 



At a little distance off is a shop where caps are 
sold, and you may buy the most comfortable smok- 
ing head gear, or be fitted with, the summer and 
winter covering of a mandarin of the first class in 
less than five minutes. 

We make one or two turns through narrow suffo- 
cating alleys, called by courtesy, streets, (for there 
is not much room to throw away in China), iand 
we hear the sound of hammers and the grating of 
saws, smell camphor wood strongly, and find our- 
selves in the carpenter's square. Three or four 
streets, joining together and forming a sort of paral- 
lelogram are wholly occupied by these artisans. 
Here they are making every variety of furniture, 
working well and cheaply. The most conspicuous 
articles are the camphor wood trunks, so admirably 
adapted for keeping woollens secure from insects. 
Ahning has a large establishment comprising four or 
five shops filled with workmen, and when you order 
a big trunk, he pulls out his rule, says " Hi Yah," 
and sends the trunk smooth, varnished and fragranti 
round to the hong, punctual to the moment. 

I might go on much further with a description of 
the various trades and shops, but the limits of this 
chapter will not allow it. It is necessary, however, 
to speak of the silk manufacture, of the furniture, 
the lac ware, and the arts of the Chinese. 

One bright Sunday morning in November, I set 
out with a party of gentlemen, including several 
members of the French embassy, to visit such silk 
manufactories as were worthy of notice. The 
Frenchmen, inquisitive in the extreme, stopped to 
look at any thing and every thing, and to make 


notes of nothing at all. We proceeded till near the 
city wall, and suddenly turning about found our- 
selves in a shop with silk just from the loom, and 
three or foiur of the most prominent silk merchants 
waiting to receive us. 

Nearly the whole of the raw silk of China is 
produced in four provinces, cut by the thirtieth par- 
allel of north latitude, about four hundred miles 
from Canton. We saw many rich varieties of silks, 
and were made aware of the fact, that the greater 
part of the finest goods are never sent out of the 
country, but are kept for home consumption. Rich 
natives will pay enormous prices, more than could 
generally be obtained in foreign countries. 

The embroidery of the crape shawls is worked 
solely by hand. One of them there making was 
ordered by a Chinaman, and he was to pay five 
hundred dollars for it. Instead of the usual flower 
pattern, it was embroidered with landscape, boats, 
houses and pagodas. We also saw for the same 
individual a counterpane of straw-colored satin 
ground, worked in variegated silk, valued at three 
hundred dollars. Their damasks are always splen- 
did, and occasionally by good chance a roll of it 
brought from the northern provinces may be found, 
which is of far richer texture than the Canton work. 
It is doubtless true in China, as in all other parts of 
the world, that the finest fabrics are found in the 
great capitals, and the richest silks must go to 

The loom is strikingly rude and clumsy in its 
appearance. Two men work it, one shifting the 
woof, and the other throwing the shuttle. That 


loom is like the policy of the Chinese government, 
seeking no new improvements, working on in the 
manner of bygone centuries, and weaving its won- 
derfully beautiful and harmonious fabric. The finest 
silks of China are even now dificult to surpass, and 
in any thing that has called forth the industry and 
ingenuity of its inhabitants, they have succeeded as 
well as people can, who are cut off from the rest of 
the world, without examples of excellence. 

A few days after visiting the silk factory, we went 
to a different part of the suburbs up the river,' to see 
a lac-ware workshop belonging to Hipqua, a jolly 
old fellow, who had followed the maxim, '^augh 
and grow fat." We paused at his shop in China 
street, and found him enjoying the air before his 
door. He had nothing on but a pair of pantaloons, 
and expressed himself as *' no cold," while he com- 
placently patted his comfortable belly. Prevailing 
on him to assume the toga virilis and go in our com- 
pany, he led us through a wilderness of streets, in 
several instances over stone bridges, crossing canals, 
that run from the river into the city, with bouses 
built along them, whose latticed balconies gave pre- 
cisely the look of Venice. 

We found in Hipqua's establishment about forty 
persons, little boys just beginning their trade, and 
bid men, engaged on the best work. The ware is 
made of the wood of a kind of light fir. This is 
floated down the Pekiang from the forests, and vast 
rafts of it, with numbers of persons on them, like 
those that go down the St. Lawrence, may always 
be seen just above Canton. 

The workman having brought the wood to the re- 


qnked shape of the article, and smoothed it care- 
fally, lays on a coat of lac, which is the gum of a 
shrub, and may be tinged of any hue, the most com- 
mon colors being brown, black, or red. It is at first 
poisonous to the touch, and the workmen are careful 
not to handle it until dry. Suppose a fine article 
being prepared, this first coat is very carefully 
smoothed, then the artist puts on a pair of magni- 
fying glasses, and, faithfully scrutinizing every part, 
picks, out with a sharp instrument the most minute 
grain that may have found its way into the gum 
without being perfectly ground; after which it is left 
to dry. It is then rubbed a long time with a smooth 
stone, and this process is repeated again and again 
until the several coats of lac are polished in the most 
perfect manner. It is now ready for ornamentation. 
A skilful hand pricks out the designed pattern on the 
black surface with a sharp steel point, and the deli- 
cate preparation of gold contained in little porcelain 
saucers is laid on with fine brushes. This being fin- 
ished, the whole is once more carefully examined, 
and the article is ready for sale. 

Nothing can exceed the splendor of the magnificent 
folding screens they make for rooms; large land- 
scapes are represented, and scenes of Chinese gar- 
dens, which are always irrigated, and in which 
bridges and boats are necessary as well as orna- 
mental. A fanciful taste occasionally colors the cos- 
tumes of the figures, and the borders of the screen 
glow with brilliant flowers. But that lacquer work 
is most beautiful, which, not profusely gilded, dis- 
plays large single figures upon a black ground. 
The eflfect is rich and striking. The large chess 


tables have shifting tops, one side adorned with gild- 
ing, and the other, forming the board, of alternating 
lacquer and mother of pearl. So fine is some of the 
work, that a man was engaged for six entire weeks 
in painting a fan which I bought. His brush was 
pointed as a needle, and the gold was laid on line by 
line. In one apartment set aside from the rest of the 
factory, the very finest work was finished, and a 
kind of oiled gauze was spread around the walls and 
under the ceiling, to prevent the smallest particles of 
dust from falling upon the ware. 
. On our return we tried to get a boat, but it being 
very low tide, we could not cross the mud to obtain 
one, and were obliged to thread our way back 
through the lanes. To give another specimen of 
the Canton jargon of the English language, we 
asked the cooley who accompanied us, "Can go 
Hong water walkee?" that is, "Can we return by 
water?" The cooley answered, "Water walkee top 
side," meaning that the tide was running up stream 
strongly, and would retard us. 

Hipqna brought us home through some of the most 
respectable streets, which were comparatively wide 
and quiet, and were occupied by the houses of rich 
Chinamen. We really saw some very pretty women. 
It was Sunday, but there was nothing to denote the 
day, no sign of devotion, no Sabbath stillness, no 
long trains of parents and children flocking to church 
at the sound of the bell. A few joss sticks smoked 
here and there, but they burn at all times. Here 
was the eternal throng forever busy ; here a manda- 
rin and officers dragging along a chained criminal ; 
and here the roar of a street theatre. 


The furniture of the Chinese is of two kinds, the 
bamboo and the rosewood. The first is exceedingly 
light, pretty, and adapted for a warm climate, withal 
very cheap. The stouter parts or framework is col- 
ored dark, and the ends of the stalks, tipped with 
ivory or horn. The young shoots of the plant are 
interwoven with those of stouter growth in pretty 
windings, and book cases, tables, sofas and chairs 
are thus produced at small cost. 

The other kind of furniture is far more costly, and 
is very heavy and solid. It is made of a kind of 
rosewood that is susceptible of high polish, and 
handsoniely carved, looks well. One end of an 
apartment has often a deep alcove, with an enor- 
mous sofa filling up the whole length and breadth of 
it, and as this is in some cases made with very short 
legs, it is elevated on a platform. On this sofa a 
table, about a foot high, is generally placed so as to 
enable those reclining at full length to help them- 
selves to tea or sweetmeats. 

Some book cases are very strangely divided in'^ 
accordance with whimsical taste, into shelves of un- 
equal length and height, so that volumes or curiosi- 
ties do not appear in line. This is so in some of the 
shops, where cases are seen for goods displayed in 
the same manner. 

The tables have the sides and edges carved fanci-" 
fully, and they are either entirely of wood, or set 
with a marble top. In these tables the stone, which 
is also used used for the seats and backs of chairs, 
is variegated like verd antique or Sienna marbles. 

The painters are a numerous class in old and new 
China streets, and are certainly much better than I 


expected to find. I mean those artists who have 
learned to paint in the English style; though the 
genuine artists, who practise in the native fashion, 
are very good in their way. The portrait painters, 
who work after the mftnner of their forefathers, pro- 
duce rude pictures, totally devoid of shade or back- 
ground, and very stiff in execution. In every artist's 
studio are to be found the paintings on what is called 
rice paper, though it is really made from the bamboo. 
This is very brittle and delicate, and nothing can 
exceed the splendor of the colors employed in repre- 
senting the trades, occupations, life, ceremonies, re- 
ligions, &c. of the Chinese, which all appear in perfect 
truth in these productions. Every thing enacted in 
life, from the highest pageants of religious ceremo- 
nial down to the lowest scenes of shameless de- 
bauchery, are given in the paintings. Not only the 
proper colors, but the exact attitudes of the figures 
are worthy of admiration. Then there ar(3 land- 
scapes, boats, birds, animals, fruit, flowers, fish and 
vegetables, and all may be obtained for a very rea- 
sonable sum, in boxes, or bound up in books. They 
cost, for the usual class of excellence, from one to two 
dollars a dozen ; which is not high, when we con- 
sider their truth, the time spent upon them, and the 
variety of colors employed. Or you may order a set 
comprising the emperor, empress, and the chief man- 
darins, and court ladies in the most magnificent at- 
tire, and finished like miniatures, for eight dollars. 

Then there are marriage and burial ceremonies, 
punishments, military shows, and mythological per- 
sonages, and as these are all (except perhaps the 
last,) true to nature and custom, he who studies 


them has a better opportunity of seeing things as 
they actually exist in China, than if he stayed there 
ten years, for he would miss half of them. Occa- 
sionally in the tea hongs I found etchings of fights 
between the Chinese and Tartars, and these outlines, 
in an artistic point of view, are about the best of 
their productions, and seem to be highly prized. 

The Chinese artists also paint miniatures on ivory. 
The prince of Canton limners is Lamqua, who 
is celebrated throughout China, and is indeed an 
excellent painter. He takes portraits in the Eu- 
ropean style, and his coloring is admirable. His 
facility in catching a likeness is unrivalled, but 
wo betide you if you are ugly, for Lamqua is no flat- 
terer. I might repeat a dozen stories of his blunt- 
ness, but they have probably all found their way 
into print He sits in the upper story, and is very 
glad to have you come and look at his paintings, and 
talk over Uie fine arts. His walls are decorated with 
his own copies of English paintings, and he possesses 
the engraved works of several British artists. His 
admiration for Sir Thomas Lawrence is profound. 
Seated in the large room are a number of his pupils 
and assistants, copying for foreigners, or painting on 
the batnboo paper. Lamqua's portraits of Chinese 
mandarins or hong merchants are scarcely to be 
excelled. He not only -gives the dress and face, 
but throws a perfectly characteristic expression into 
the countenance, and introduces as an accessary a 
Chinese landscape very successfully. 

In connection with the painters, as well as with 
the shops of every sort, we must mention the man- 
ner in which goods are packed for transportation. 



This is as much a curiosity as the articles them- 
selves, and is worthy of all imitation by our own 
shopkeepers. The smallest article that you buy, if 
it is only an ivory seal, is placed in a neat little Ik»c 
(conformed to its shape, and lined with rose colored 
silk without extra charge. Their ingenuity in pack- 
ing, is more noticeable in the silk goods, because 
they are folded in the soft bamboo paper in such a 
manner, that once undone, no foreigner can restore 
the bundle to its pristine shape and compactnesss. 
And the large shawls are so nicely folded, that the 
fringe is not disturbed in the least, and wrapped 
in the soft paper, are put into boxes of the exact 

The lacquer ware is packed with the greatest care 
in soft delicate paper clippings, so that it cannot be 
moved or rubbed in the least. Then the whole box 
is varnished, to exclude the air, and over the edges 
long strips of coarse paper are pasted, the maker's 
name in English appearing on one of the pieces. 
Thus safe and sound, they may go round the world 
without danger. 

Some people, who know less about the Chinese 
than they profess to, say that they are not an inven- 
tive, but merely an imitative race. What nation 
have they imitated? Are they not the originators 
of almost every art they possess? Are they not 
adepts in some arts, that no other nation can attempt 1 
They were the first who made silk, introduced into 
Rome through Persia. Theirs were the earliest dis- 
coveries of the compass, of gunpowder, and of 
printing. These three inventions have exercised 
the greatest influence upon the human race, and any 


one of them may entitle the Chinese to very high 
rank as originators. 

Their printing is done by means of wooden 
blocks, with the characters upon the surface, and 
the paper used, being thin, it is printed on one side 
only, and the fold is on the outer edge, so that the 
leaves do not have to be cut Their books sell for a 
very small sum, and may vie hi cheapness with the 
professedly cheap editions of the United States, for 
all those millions of people enjoy the pleasures of 

Music and sculpture are at the lowest ebb in 
China. The tunes are childish sing-songs, and their 
instruments sound like hurdy-gurdies. Statuary 
does not exist, except in some of their temples, and 
then it is very rude and ugly. 

Their gunpowder and artillery are nearly useless, 
for warlike purposes at least ; for from the Tartar 
conquest to the English invasion, a period of two 
hundred years, they have been in profound peace, 
and theJr cannon have not been of much more ser- 
vice, than to be stuck in the ground, and fired three 
at a time for the arrival and departure of fat man- 
darins at oficial stations. 

Their compass is but a philosophical toy, and the 
reason is obvious ; tfaeir commerce has been invaria- 
bly restricted. In inland navigation alone, have they 
arrived at perfection, and even in that their models 
have been given them, with a veto on change. 

The great wonder is, that the Chinese, under all 
circumstances, should have progressed so astonish- 
ingly far. For ages, while other nations were sunk 
in barbarism, have they been, we might almost 


say, enlightened ; for ages have they be^n acquiring 
those habits and customs, that now render them so 
singular; and ages again must elapse before they 
can change and become as Christianized, liberal 
people. But they have been vastly under-estimated, 
and while industry and ingenuity are regarded with 
favor, they must hold rank among the nations. 



A Chinese museum. 

The cheapness of labor in China, is one great 
reason why so many strange things in the way of 
curiosities in articles of virtu, are there met with. 

At first sight, it would seem that men must be 
paid enormous sums for such articles, as would be 
the case among a scattered population ; but vast 
numbers of Chinese driven to want, have been for- 
ever inventing rich and strange expedients for sup- 
port. Their minds, having no interest in the great 
topics of government or politics, are forced into the 
direction of the strange and fastastic ; and as pay is 
scarcely more than, enough for daily subsistence, 
every little root or stone becomes an object of value, 
if it can be turned into a wild or rare shape to hit 
the fancy of a virtuoso. 

In the same manner, the upper classes delight in 
the purchase of these things, and the more outre their 
appearance, the higher are they valued, and kept as 
heirlooms in families, as plate is handed down in 
other countries. 

First, the antique porcelain comes under notice, 
but the genuineness of all this ware, I do not vouch 
for; some of it undoubtedly is ancient. It certainly 
differs from the modern article, and the Chinese say 
that the art of making porcelain has degenerated, 



and at the present day, that as good as was made a 
thousand years ago, cannot be produced for love or 
money. We know that porcelain was manufactured 
more than ten centuries ago, and that bottles bearing 
inscriptions, which at this day can be read at a 
glance by Chinese scholars, have been found in some 
of the Egyptian tombs. 

In Curiosity street, the enthusiastic visitor will 
see large handsome shops, open to the streets, filled 
with innumerable articles, arranged on shelves, the 
whole having the appearance of a museum ; but he 
will be rather checked in his desire of buying, when 
he learns the exorbitant prices demanded for every 

Some of the vases are of large size, but usually 
they are small, and seem to be of very fine grain. 
It is impossible to procure a pair alike, each article 
being represented as unique. 

Some are of bright yellow, with ribs and seams 
running a thousand ways, and relieved by blue and 
scarlet flowers, and others are of every mingled shade 
and hue. Those about a foot high, and of uniform 
hue, are most prized, and a single figure of a man* 
darin or lady is usually found on one side, and 
ancient Chinese characters on the other. 

These are of very graceful shapes, and the ears 
are formed by animals or birds clinging to the sides. 

One of the house of Rothschild, sent to Canton 
when I was there, for two vases of this description, 
which were found after some trouble, and cost him 
a good many pounds sterling. He might have 
bought specimens of the modern ware of much 
larger size, for a third of the money. 


Some Tarieties of jars seem worn by time, and if 
this is a deception, it is a very wonderful one. Others 
are purposely cracked all over the surface. 

The old porcelain is semi-transparent, so that held 
to the light, the figures show through. Little long 
narrow necked bottles are* made with characters, 
and even landscapes cut inside of them, in the most 
unaccountable manner. 

These specimens may often be seen in the houses 
of wealthy men, and after the war articles of virtu, 
such as had never before been seen in Canton, and 
which were probably plundered from ruined fami- 
lies, were exposed for sale in that city. 

The Chinese display great variety and ingenuity 
of design in their porcelain tea-pots. A friend of mine 
purchased one representing the section of a branch 
of a tree ; a Uttle twig with leaves, formed the spout, 
and another the handle, and in order to add to the 
elSfect, a bug or small reptile was introduced, gnawing 
its way through a part of the bark. There are 
plates, saucers and cups, each of different patterns, 
and Uttle nests of cups, the outer one not bigger than 
a thimble. Then there are teapots of white copper, 
inclosing an earthen one, and how these are made, 
no one can imagine. These look very much like 
fine 'silver, and they are often chased with figures, 
flowers, &c. The white copper is peculiar to China. 
It is an alloy, but takes a fine polish, and is greatly 
used' in decorating and inlaying cabinets, dressing 
cases, &c, and in contrast with the dark rosewood, 
makes a very beautiful ornament. 

In the porcelain line, one may find pillows made 
into the form of comical boys, doubled into'^qdler 


postares, seats with ugly demons supporting their 
arms, and model pagodas ten or twenty feet high, 
which would look well in a garden. There are also 
small figures, such as lions, dragons, and ladies with 
very long fingers, and sharp claws made of snow- 
white porcelain, without speck or stain, and which 
seem to be held in high favor. 

In the curiosities are many which are singular 
from their carvings, cut deep into the substance, 
with two or three ranges of decorations one behind 
another. There are stands for porcelain or copper 
ornaments, which would rival the far famed work 
of Grinling Gibbons ; and from boxwood the most 
beautiful ornaments are made in the form of large 
broad leaves, with all the intersecting fibres plainly 
visible, which would serve admirably for card plates. 
Sandal wood is used in immense quantities, not only 
as incense, but for all kinds of ornamental boxes. 
This is costly, and gives forth a delicious and inex- 
haustible perfume, and is very much in demand. 
Cups for allumettes and cassolettes, carved minutely, 
are made, and the carver will introduce your own 
initials on the box, should you desire it. Models of 
boats, entirely composed of this precious wood, may 
be obtained. Fans too, as light and delicate as those 
in ivory, are among the articles which sandal wood 
is used for. 

In Curiosity street, for in Canton whole avenues 
are sometimes devoted to one branch of trade, is 
found rare and expensive furniture of polished 
rosewood. Some of the tables and chairs have slabs 
of marble set into them, and very strangely many 
aA so happily variegated that the forms of birds, an- 


imals and figures are seen on the surface of the 

The shopkeepers will say that these eccentricities 
are natural, but they are merely skilful decep- 

They have the appearance of being so shaded 
"accidentally on purpose" (if I may use a cant 
phrase), for they look as much like chance as de- 

The same colors run through the entire stone, so 
that if the face of it was cut off, a precisely similar 
picture would be seen beneath. 

The Ghine^ have an art of removing the coating 
of leaves so that nothing but the fibres remain, and 
these being covered with transparent varnish, which 
fills up the little spaces between the intersections, are 
dried thoroughly, and then painted upon in glowing 

Mythological figures 9eem to be favorite subjects 
for these paintings, but any representations look 
well, as the varnish forms a good colored back- 

Hie dealer in curiosities will pull out of his 
shelves more oddities than you can look at in one 
morning. Among other things, he has a number of 

One of the best known of these is the ring puzzle, 
which is in extensive use - in the United States; 
it consists of a number of rings, which are attached 
to each other by wires, and slip on and off the other 
part of the puzzle by an ingenious though at first 
sight an apparently impossible method. 

Another enigmatical toy consists in three or four 


hollow tubes of ivory, closed at their ends, but per- 
forated along their sides by various little holes. 
Through these holes are run small silk cords, and 
the tubes can be moved on these threads backwards 
and forwards. The mystery of the thing is this. 
Between the two first lubes are four threads, be- 
tween the second and third but three, and between 
the third and fourth tubes only two cords appear. 
Then take hold of the second tube and move it to 
and fro. As you move it towards the third tube, 
the four cords are elongated, and the three short- 
ened, and vice versa. Now how the four cords are 
resolved into three, and then into two, by moving 
the two middle tubes, and each time the three cords 
growing no larger than the four, or the two than the 
three, i^ to me utterly unaccountable. I have dwelt 
on this puzzle at some length, because I do not think 
it is generally known, though it is difiicult to de- 
scribe exactly without the aid of a diagram. 

Another consists in six or seven little sections of 
box or sandal wood, each one diiSerent in shape, and 
a book is usually sold with them, containing several 
hundred permutations through which these blocks 
can be carried. A third, less a puzzle than a curi- 
osity, is a fan, which, opened in one direction, comes 
into a dozen paits, and moved back the other way it 
is whole again. 

From the north of China are brought many arti- 
cles of greater variety than are found in Canton. 
Among these are pictures of myths, on strips of 
paper about a sixteenth of an inch wide, and put 
together lengthwise and crosswise, exactly as cotton 
is woven. 


Cups of rhinoceros' horn, which put one in mind 
of ^- Vathek," are worth the attention of the collec- 
tor. These are very hard, and susceptible of high 
poUsh, and must naturally be rather scarce, as the 
besust has but one horn generally, and is not found in 
immense numbers. 

A section of the horn is cut, and worked out into 
the proper form. It is of a purple hue, the outside 
is embellished in high relief, and the cup is set upon 
one of the wonderful carved stands before men* 

Then there are screens which set into a frame, 
and which seem to be composed of a kind of mosaic 
and Souchow lacquer -ware, the like of which the 
shopman swears can only be produced in that most 
celestial of all cities. This is usually scarlet, con- 
sisting of >>boxes, and tray^, and cabinets, every part 
fitting in the most exquisite manner, and carved to 
the last degree of perfection. 

What is erroneously called a sceptre, but is the 
joo-ee, is found among this ware. This is nearly in 
the form of the letter S, and is used by people of 
high rank as a present, and is sometimes borne by 
an official at scenes of ceremony. It is made in 
some cases in a very costly style, having superb 
cameos inserted in the ends. 

A very favorite ornament is the variegated agate, 
polished and set into a frame of carved wood, and 
placed upright on a table. An old hong merchant 
pointed out to me on^ of these large slabs, which he 
seemed very proud of, and said that it came from 
America. Such articles are often the only ornament 
of a room, as in Europe a beautiful picture or rare 


Statue is occasionally the sole decoration of a cab- 

Among the many excellencies which the Chinese 
display in their curiosities, and which Europeans 
buy in large quantities, are the little clay figures of 
subjects in all ranks of life ; these are about a foot 
high, and nothing can be more true to their proto- 

The cooley is represented half naked, with his 
wide pantaloons, and his tail wreathed around his 
head, an instrument of labor in his hands, his hoe 
or his pole, and cords for carrying weights. The 
merchant with a box in his hand, the lady with 
small feet, the common woman better off with feet 
of the natural size, and the mandarin in fine silk, 
and with velvet cap and fan. Every part is accu- 
rately colored, and the countenances are miracles of 
modelling. The expression of the faces is lifelike, 
.and so minutely are all parts represented, that the 
shaven hair on the head and chin is not forgotten. 

Copper ornaments, the curiosity shops seem par- 
ticularly to abound in, and. the workers in this metal 
display great skill. 

There are cups and vases, and vessels ornamented 
in high relief, and the handle of the covers are fig-, 
ures with the draperies managed with much grace. 

There are enormous tripods used in burning san- 
dal wood, which diffuses a delicious odor. Some of 
these are in elegant taste, not inferior to Etruscan 
patterns, but generally are fantastic. 

In the Buddhist temples, vast numbers of idols, 
made of copper combined with other metals, display 
no ordinary workmanship, and sacred vessels deco- 


rated with •votive sentences, and containing sticks 
of incense, constantly burning, stand before the 

The Chinese possess an art of soldering copper not 
known to Europeans, and another of mending cast 
iron without remoulding. This might give employ- 
ment to a wandering Celestial, and make him 
exceedingly popular among old women who have 
broken pots and kettles. 

The metallic production of the Asiatics, which is 
best known, is the gong. This is shaped precisely 
like a tambourine, is about the color of dirty brass, 
has a round black spot in its centre where it is 
struck, and is capable of making more deafening 
noise than the great bell of Moscow. 

It i9 struck with a wooden mallet, a round ball 
covered with leather. 

The Chinese use it at all hours, without the 
slightest regard for their own or for others' ears. A 
servant in one of our hotels is drilled into tapping it 
lightly, but when a Chinaman takes hold of it, he 
bangs away with all his force, and it booms and 
rattles like cannon and muskets combined. 

If a building is finished, the carpenters celebrate 
the event by beating gongs ; if a man gets married, 
his serenade is aided by these vociferous instruments, 
but above all, in any religious exercise, the gongs 
peal forth thdr due portion of praise, and the effect 
is absolutely stunning. 

Connected with the religious uses of the gongs, 
may be mentioned the penates of the Chinese, the 
little wood, stone or copper josses which are exposed 
for sale. 



Those in stone offer the sole specimens of statuary 
to be found ; the name of Joss stands for God or gods 
of any faith, and these httle representatives of deities 
are hawked about with no shadow of reverence. 

They frequently represent old men with flowing 
robes and long beards, and are curious as specimens 
of portable idolatry. 

The mirrors of glass and metal must be noticed ; 
the Chinese have ordinary looking-glasses as we do, 
and some others which are quite remarkable. 

Some of glass are perfectly globular, and the silver- 
ing process on the inner surface must be a matter of 
some difficulty ; they are suspended by a cord which 
is knotted into a small hole in the top of the ball, and 
are not used excepting as curiosities. Their magic 
mirrors are of copper. They are circular and 
slightly convex, and on the back have a knob with 
a string tied in it to hold them by. 

Figures in relief are plainly seen upon the back, 
but not a line upon the face, nothing except your 
own sapient or vacant visage reflected, but held in 
the sun's rays an exact imitation of the figures on 
the back of the plate are seen upon the wall, or 
wherever the rays of the sun are thrown from the 
mirror. In Davis's Observations on China, Sir D. 
Brewster's explanation of this mystery is given at 
full length. He supposes that the figures on the 
back are repeated on the face so slightly traced, and 
so highly polished, as to be imperceptible to direct 

An idea of this may be given by the modern da- 
guerreotype; we know that at certain angles the 
intense reflection of the plate conceals the picture, 


and it is only when the rays are thrown from us that 
we see the object. These mirrors are placed in 
carved stands of great beauty, the round edge of the 
plate fitting precisely a small crescent in the top of 
the frame. 

In the heterogenous coHections of the Canton curi- 
osity shops may be mentioned remarkable kites that 
the old men in China, as well as the little boys, 
are^ond of flying. These are made of very light 
but strong paper, stretched on the smallest fibres of 
the bamboo, and are so nicely adapted to their pur- 
pose, and so truly balanced, that they float ofl" with 
the lightest breath of air. 

They are painted in gaudy colors, and are formed 
into dragons, birds, beetles, and butterflies, very nat- 
urally, and their great superiority over other kites 
consists in the propensity they have of rising with- 
out placing those in quest of sport in danger of 
losing their breath by running violently. 

It might seem proper to apologize for the confused 
manner in which these rarities are mentioned, but 
it is impossible to give more than a catalogue of such 
as are worthy of notice, and to skip from one to the 
other just as they come. 

The wealthy Chinese are pleased to possess an' 
aviary containing birds, remarkable for their beauty 
or ugliness, it matters not which, so that they are 
uncommon, and a flourishing trade is driven by the 
bird fanciers. 

One of these in Old China street styles himself 
"Young Tom Birdman," and has his shop full of 
the pretty songsters, as well as the more staid and 
quiet members of the feathered race. Superb phea- 


sants with splendid plumage, may be seen at his door, 

-^ macaws, cross and handsome, mandarin ducks in 
pairs, cackling and loving, inconsolable in mourning, 
pot-bellied pelicans, white as snow, with voices like 
speaking trumpets, and large cages with gregarious 

v^sparrows, as well as creatures of humming-Jbird size, 
that make the whole air resound with their trillings. 
The prettiest little birds in ^' Young Tom's" collec- 
tion, are the " averdevats," (I do not know if I have 
spelt the name correctly,) which are the most win- 
ning pets in the world. They are red when in full 
plumage, and seem to be sociable and cheerful in 
the extreme. They have a little shrill note which 
they all the time indulge in, and never engage in 
bickering beyond a little harmless pecking. A long 
bar runs through their cage, and on this they huddle 
close together, and frequently one at the end of the 
line, though in possession of ample room, .hops 
along the backs of the others, and squeezes himself 
between two, like a fellow who crowds into a full seat 
in the pit of a theatre. 

Young Tom has them all in wholesome subjec- 
tion, stops quarrelling by whipping all the parties 
concerned, and is prepared to furnish birds, cages, 
and food at any time. 

r" The Chinese seem to be naturally fond of birds, 
and the cages they make are of great variety and 
beauty, l^hey are of bamboo, stained and orna- 
mented with ivory, and in the shape of houses, 
temples, or boats, finished in the most beautiful 
manner, curiosities themselves. Some of them are 
decorated with paintings on glass, and fitted with dif- 

N^ferent apartments. 


In some shops a collection of anns may be made, 
swords, shields, bows and arrows. Mandarins wear 
the sword on the right side, and two blades are fre- 
quently inserted into one case, the handles of both 
occupying the same space as if of one blade, and 
these are clashed together while advancing to the 
attack. The shields are of tough bamboo, circular, 
and capable of resisting a sword or pike. The bows 
and arrows are yet used in war, fire-arms not having 
entirely superseded them. 

Flower stands, or pots of ornamental character, 
are made by some of the lower Chinese workmen, 
and the sharks and scoundrels that feed upon sailors 
in Whampoa, sell many of them to captains of ves- 
sels. They are made of common pottery in the 
form of mounds and hills, with little grottoes, houses, 
and figures upon them. In several parts of them are 
receptacles for earth, in which seeds are planted and 
the shoots grow freely and overshadow the clay 

Even the tangled knotty roots of old trees in the 
hands of a Chinaman become curiosities. Some 
are overgrown with fibres, and if the most distant 
resemblance be found in them to any thing "in the 
heavens above or on the earth beneath, or in the 
waters under the earth," the ready tools of the 
artist shape it to the required form, leaving these 
long fibres for the hair and beards of old men, and 
for the manes and tails of dragons. 

But the jade stone is of all curiosities the highest 
prized from its rarity, its hardness, and from the 
exquisite polish and smoothness given to it by the 
artisan. It is usually of a bluish green hue, ap- 



proaching to the diamond in hardness ; the sharpest 
steel instrument will not produce a scratch upon it, 
and like the diamond, it must be worked with its 
own dust. 

Cups are made from it resembling the flewer of 
the sacred Lotus, (Nymphea Nelumbo.) 

It is the task of nearly a lifetime to work out this 
adamantine mineral to its graceful shapes, and to 
give every part its wonderful finish. Sometimes a 
huge lump is carved into a mountain; trees and 
gardens are there, houses and temples of true Chi- 
nese architecture, and men engaged in occupation, 
or social meeting, and to the most minute fragment, 
all is perfect. One of these mountains exibited in ' 
Curiosity street was valued at five hundred dollars, 
and I am certain that out of China no man would 
have consented to have made it for twenty times 
that sum. Small pieces are made into clasps, or 
into little amulets minutely sculptured, and worn 
around the neck. 

Mandarins of rank, also, wear it in their caps 
and dresses, and in large thumb rings while using 
the bow, as protection against the recoil of the 

Japan ware, which is often ignorantly confounded 
with lacquer ware, and which even the Chinese can- 
not equal, is highly valued and enormously expensive. 
The Japanese, as jealous of their Celestial neigh- 
bors as of most other nations, permit some trade, 
and their lacquer ware is introduced into China, and 
purchased as a luxurious acquisition by the rich 

A short time before I was in Canton, one of the 


two Dutch ships which trade annually to Japan, 
sustained great damage on the coast of China, and 
was obliged to seek Macao harbor, where part of her 
cargo was discharged and sold. Quantities of this 
splendid ware was thus oflFered and eagerly pur- 

It is far finer than the Chinese work, and in fact 
is a different article. 

It is generally black, hard, of mirror-like polish, 
and has mother of pearl so skilfully inlaid, that the 
finger may slide over the surface without feeling the 
slightest roughness, any more than the colors of a 
rose leaf can be felt; the eye cannot detect the lines 
of insertion, the pearl seems to be part and parcel of 
the ware. From small card racks to enormous cab- 
inets of palatial magnificence, every article may be 
found in this ware which the Chinese manufacture in 
their own. 

The Japanese are more singular than their tea- 
drinking rivals. They will hold intercourse with 
no one; a few junks trade between the two coun- 
tries, but there is no cordiality. The Chinese have 
several times endeavored to conquer them, but have 
always been soundly beaten by this warlike and 
fierce people. 

The Portuguese, some two or three centuries since, 
had quite a foothold in Japan ; but Jesuitism, like a 
coiling serpent, attempting to fasten on the people, 
was for once baffled, and the foreigners were slaugh- 
tered, the priests driven out, and Christianity for- 
mally anatemathized and abolished. 

Of Europeans, the Dutch were henceforth alone 
permitted to visit the country, condemned to undergo 


the most degrading ceremonies, and confined to the 
one port of Nangasaki. 

They are to this day allowed but two ships a year 
in trade with Japan. 

Report has _ said that the Hollanders were com- 
pelled to trample on the cross, which they consented 
to do every time they visited the country for the 
sake of making money ; and that their sails, com- 
passes, charts, and rudders, were taken away until 
such time a.s their cargoes were complete, and their 
hospitable entertainers thought proper to let them 


Whether or not these severities have been modi- 

fied, it is impossible to say. 

The empire, like China, will one day be fully 
open, and will present wonderful attractions to the 

A visit to Picture street will amply repay the curi- 
osity of the foreigner. 

You go through one or two narrow, crowded, blind 
alleys, turn to the right at the end of the street 
leading to the curiosity shops, and find yourself in a 
quiet broad avenue, with a number of large shops in 
it, where are exposed for sale all articles of glass 
manufacture. Among these are found paintings on 
glass in extremely brilliant hues. 

These represent figures of actual or mythological 
beings as well as landscapes, and some of the demons 
of the Chinese religion. The paintings are gener- 
ally set upright into frames, and may serve admira- 
ably as screens. In these shops are also sold the 
fine glass lanterns in rosewood settings, and elegantly 
ornamented with crimson silk tassels. 


One might as well go to Newcastle and bear 
nothing about coals, as visit China and say nothing 
about lanterns. They are absolutely necessary to 
Chinese existence ; a Celestial deprived of this lu- 
minary, would lose part of his identity, he would 
feel lost himself. 

There are no street lamps in Canton, and so it is 
necessary to carry a light if one ventures out at 
night; added to which it is a protection against 

There are numberless kinds of lanterns; they are 
made of paper, silk, glass, or horn, the most common 
being made of tough oiled paper, and they are seen 
in every boat and before every hong. 

If you wish at night to visit another hong, you 
send to the compradore, and he orders out a cooley 
with the indispensable article ; he is to show you the 
way, and to wait patiently, if it be two hours, until 
you are ready to return. 

He carries a cylindrical lantern formed by fibres 
of bamboo interlacing, and over these is stretched 
a thin gauze, just sufficient to prevent the wind from 
extinguishing the candle within. 

Lanterns may be had of any size and cost, the 
cheapest are not more than a cent or two in price, 
while the magnificent state lamps are worth hun- 
dreds of dollars. People of every rank indulge as 
far as their means will allow in the luxury of illu- 
mination. The poor boat people have their paper, 
and the better classes their silk and glass lanterns at 
periods of rejoicing. 

They are used as door-plates are with us, the name 
of the occupant being brightly emblazoned in the 


wriggling characters of the language. The sedan 
bearers carry them suspended from the poles of the 
chair, and the rich use them as ornaments in their 

The silk lanterns and those of painted paper are 
often embellished with figures and flowers, and when 
a bright light is introduced, the efiect is beafltiful. 

Some are made to open and shut in a very ingen- 
ious manner, on the same principle that the umbrella 
is made. 

The glass lanterns are not inferior to any in use 
among our own people, and it has been rather a 
matter of surprise to me that they have not been 
more generally introduced and used as hall lamps. 

They are square or hexagonal, the glass either 
plain or painted, and set into richly carved rosewood 

At each angle are placed crimson silk tassels, the 
cords knotted as intricately as the Gordian tie of old, 
and the fringe is of the finest quality. 

When purchased, every component part of the 
lantern is so accurately marked, that though taken 
in pieces and packed, the buyer is never at fault in 
rearranging the lantern. Other varieties are glob- 
ular, and composed of difierent colored glass, fused 
together, and the efiect is indescribably beautiful. 
The most singular, however, are those of horn ; this, 
by some process, is laminated and so nicely joined, 
that it looks as if it had been blown in one mass 
like the retort in a glass-house. 

These are sometimes colored scarlet, and are ren- 
dered nearly transparent, so that they shed a rich 


They are also made in the form of fish and ani- 
mals, accurately painted, and all shapes in nature 
are represented during that extraordinary festival, 
the feast of Lanterns. As I did not happen to wit- 
ness this jubilee, I shall say nothing about it. 

It only remains to mention the universal bam- 
boo to bring our catalogue of rarities and curi- 
osities to a close. It is as necessary to the Chinese 
as bread fruit to the Sandwich Islanders. 

Suddenly deprived of it, the nation would almost 
be annihilated. It is used for boats and for build- 
ings, for theatres to amuse the populace, and scaf- 
folds for executions, preserved it tickles the appetite, 
and dried it tickles the backs of bad boys ; it is the 
instrument of justice and of torture ; it is made into 
furniture, into baskets, into paper, into weapons and 
peaceful pipes, and into curiosities. 

It is made into rules and boxes highly polished 
and carved, and into cups, in which we will drink 
adieu to the manufactured rarities of Canton. 




The mighty store-houses, stretching as they do for 
miles along the Canton River, filled during the busy 
season with hundreds of thousands of chests of tea, 
and employing armies of operatives, bear witness to 
the immensity and importance of the tea-trade. 

In these ware-houses, the tea is stored after com- 
ing from the country in which it is grown ; here it is 
assorted and sold, and finally put on board the chop- 
boats, and sent to the ships at their anchorage ground 
at Whampoa. 

The two varieties of the black and green teas are 
grown in different countries, and in fact differ mate- 
rially in species, the leaf of the black tea plant being 
darker and stouter than that of the green, and also 
rather shorter. 

A low alluvial soil is not favorable to the growth 
of tea. There is little or none near Canton; the 
climate there is also too warm, and the shrub only 
flourishes in a more temperate climate, and thrives 
best upon the sides of the hills. 

Great care is requisite in its cultivation, and though 
it has been brought hitherto only from China, it 
it is now grown to some extent in Luzon and Java, 
where there are several thousands of runaway Chi- 
nese, and it has been found to succeed at St. Helena. 


So universal is the use of the plant, that one can 
scarcely enter a house, or a boat or shop, but that 
he sees the tea-pot and little cups standing ready. 

The black tea country is nearest to Canton, being 
from two to five hundred miles distant, and the green 
tea country from seven to fi^fteen hundred. 

The crops are gathered in the spring, and the 
length of time required for teas to arrive at Canton 
is somewhat immense, and exemplifies the primitive 
mode of travel and transportation still existing in 
China, and which the earliest travellers describe as 
if they wrote of it to-day. 

The plants are cultivated by tea farmers, who 
make contracts with merchants, and deliver into 
their hands the leaves dried and partly prepared for 
market ; the merchants pack them, and then they find 
their way slowly down the long canals in boats, and 
over the hills and mountain passes on the backs of 
men. Many a sun rises and sets ; there is many a 
change from boat to boat ; constant exertion is ne- 
cessary to propel the heavy barge with poles along 
the waters ; the costumes of various provinces vary 
as the boat goes on, the dialect of each is strange to 
the ears of the boatmen ; the heat of the sun grows 
fierce, it shines no longer on the temperate regions, 
but glares on the ripened crops and verdant luxuri- 
ance of a tropical soil. 

And soon the wide meadows around Canton, the 
haze of the city, the busy boats on its river, the 
river winding into distance, the villages and grace- 
ful pagodas afar oflf, promise the boon of rest to 
the crew, for their destination is won, and the crop 



gathered in its native province in early spring reaches 
the great emporium in middle autumn. 

Of the two teas, the Chinese drink the black alto- 
gether, neglecting the green entirely, excepting some 
of the finest kinds used as presents between persons 
of wealth and rank. The best varieties of either hue 
are picked earliest in the season, and the coarser 
kinds later. 

.Of the black, the flowery pekoe is the best, with 
an exquisite flavor, and consists party of the buds of 
the plant mixed with the tender young leaves. Next 
to the pekoe is the souchong, which is also a fine 
tea of the second picking, and the best of this is 
packed in papers containing about half a pound each. 
Congo and bohea are the two lower grades ; the last 
is strong in fiavor and coarse in appearance, and 
part of the stems are always mixed with it; the first 
is sometimes of very good quality. The names of 
the greens, beginning with the lowest grades, are 
hyson skin and twankay, hyson, young hyson, gun- 
powder, and imperial. The twankay of the greens 
corresponds to the bohea of the blacks. 

Hyson forms the great bulk of the green tea car- 
goes, and the best of it combines the two qualities of 
strength and delicacy. 

Any one who takes the trouble to examine green 
and black teas, will not only note their difierence of 
color, but that the green leaves are rolled closer and 
firmer than those of the other. Great trouble is re- 
quired in its preparation ; it comes from a more dis- 
tant country, and therefore bears a higher price than 
the other. 

There are two stories that many persons believe, 


namely, that the green and black grow upon the 
same shrub, and that the greens acquire their hue 
from being dried on copper. Now the two tea coun- 
tries, as we have before observed, are remote from 
each other, the leaves differ originally in size and 
hue, and the teas of all varieties are dried on iron 
pans, each one over a small furnace. The Chinese 
acknowledge, indeed, that the two teas may be pro- 
duced from either plant, by artificial means, in color-? 
ing &c. ; and a few years since, when theTe was an 
immense demand for greens in the United States, the 
common blacks were made to serve their turn at the 
Island of Honam, which is opposite to Canton. 

It is generally believed that the hue of the green 
teas is aided by coloring matter, for the finest quali- 
ties used by the rich as "cumshaws" or presents, 
have a yellowish tinge as if simply dried. 

Each foreign house employs a tea inspector, or 
taster, whose business it is to examine samples of all 
the teas; and the process of tasting, though very 
necessary, seems to a stranger rather a ridiculous 
piece of business. For instance, a taster has a certain 
lot of tea to examine. 

Several samples selected from various chests are 
placed near him, and first of all he takes a large 
handful, smells it repeatedly, until little dots of the 
shrub decorate his red nose. Then he chews some 
of it, and records his opinion in a huge folio, wherein 
are chronicled the merits of every lot that he ex- 

With all due deference to the importance of inspec- 
tion, once or twice, when the taster did not exactly 
know what to say of the sample, the book would 


bear witness that the "non-committal" parcel had 
"a decided tea flavor," an opinion resembling the 
fiat of a connoisseur in wines, who occasionally hits 
upon "a decided port flavor," when questioned as 
to the merits of a doubtful bottle. The East India 
Company's tea tasters were occasionally of eminent 
service in detecting frauds, and the negatiations for 
tea cargoes are always conducted through the in- 

The hongs front upon the river, stretching back 
into the suburbs. 

Fancy a building twelve hundred feet long by 
from twenty to forty feet broad, and in some portions 
of it fifty feet high, built of brick, with its floor as 
level as a rope walk. These hongs are of one story, 
in some places open to the sky, and so long that at 
the end of one of them the human form diminishes, 
and we see beings engaged in occupation, and we 
hear no noise, for they steal along like shadows. 

Here are immense scales for weighing tea; here 
are tables placed for superintendents, where the 
light falls in through the roof; far from these again 
are foreigners inspecting a newly arrived chop; at 
the extreme end is the little apartment where the tea 
merchant receives men upon business ; and through 
the high door beyond, we see the lively river and a 
chop boat waiting, ready for the cargo. ' 

In one part of the building a second story is added, 
for immense suits of beautiful rooms, furnished with 
costly elegance, and adorned with rarities and 
articles of virtu. 

We wonder what all these chambers are meant for 
where no one appears, and we learn that they are 


merely for show and the occasional reception of 

Here is a door that leads out on to the roof. Below 
us is the river, with its myriads of beings and boats; 
on our right the public square, with the standards of 
America, England, and France ; opposite is the ver- 
dant island of Honam, with its villages, its canals, 
and its great temple. 

On our left is another vista of river life, the fort of 
Dutch folly, and behind us the dense city. We de- 
scend and find in one of the pretty rooms that some 
servant, who has vanished, has placed the most aro- 
matic of tea for us upon a superb table. 

It is always the custom after three o'clock in the 
day to offer tea to strangers at all the hongs, and 
perhaps the merchant wishes to make a good im- 
pression, and trusts that foreigners will be induced 
to purchase from him. 

As we are about to depart, in comes a gentleman 
of lively bustling appearance, who hopes we are 
well, and is so very polite that we can scarcely get 
away from him. 

This is Shinqua, the Chesterfield of Canton, and 
we must devote a special paragraph to this obse- 
quious celestial. 

Shinqua is as well known probably as any of the 
Chinese worthies from his sociable and easy man- 
ners, and from the interest he takes in every one at 
first sight. 

Introduced to him, he asks your name, and then 
suddenly remembers to have seen you before, or 
some uncle or cousin in whom he claims a staunch 
friend; he hopes you will come and see him, and 


talks of inundating you with cards; he claps his 
hands, smiles all the time, laughs at every observa- 
tion you make, as if it sparkled with the wit of Sher- 
idan, and half an hour afterwards forgets your face 
and name, reinters your old relations, and goes 
through with the same rigmarole the next time he 
meets you. . 

We were on the top of his house, enjoying the 
breeze and the prospect, and one of the party, was 
sketching the scene of boats. 

Shinqua came up, and though the paper presented 
only the faint outline scarcely discernible, he fell 
into ecstasies over it. 

He held the of&ce of purser (or foreman) for Pon- 
tinqua, a mandarin of rank, who was a large tea 
merchant at the same time. 

Alas for Shinqua. Since my return from China 
the revulsions of trade have overtaken him, and 
always inflated, he has finally "busted." 

The visitor will form some idea of the tea trade 
when he visits one hong after another, filled with 
tea, and sees cooleys bringing in chops, and sorting 
cargoes, packing, making leaden canisters, filling 
chop boats, and labelling the chests. 

One who goes a short distance down the narrow 
street, behind the foreign factories, crosses the stone 
bridge that overarches the canal bordering the Eng- 
lish garden, threads the carpenter's square, and 
takes two or three turns, will come to Samqua's hong, 
which is one of the largest in Canton. 

A heavy gate, with brilliant figures painted on it, 
and adorned with enormous lanterns, swings yawn- 
ing open and swallows you up. Just inside sits a 


gatekeeper, at a little table, and he keeps count of 
the cooleys as they enter with chests of tea, and sees 
that they do not go out with any unless for good 

Look down the length of the inclosure, and a 
busy scene presents itself. It is crammed almost to 
suffocation, with big square chests just from the tea 
regions, and piled up to the ceiling. Presently a 
string of cooleys, stretching out like a flock of wild 
geese, come past, and on some part of the hong set 
down chests enough to cover half an acre. 

This tea, which arrives at the city in outlandish- 
looking boats, is unloaded in an incredibly short 
space of time by these half naked fellows. There 
are so many of the cooleys to be had for whistling, 
that a cargo of tea is nothing in their hands. 

They work hke bees, and fifty, or even twenty- 
five of them carrying, by the aid of their shoulder- 
bar and ropes, two chests of tea at each eflbrt, will 
soon unload a boat. 

" Reader, didst ever see a cooley — and for fear 
That you should not, I '11 tell it you exactly." 

A cooley is a laborer or underling of every sort ; he 
is an ubiquitous animal ; he works at the scull of a 
boat and in a tea packhouse, he learns a trade and 
sweeps out a chamber. 

His ideas are as limited as his means, and nearly 
as much so as his clothing ; he works all day, and 
never grumbles at his lot ; he is cheerful, and seems 
to enjoy life, though he lives on a few cents a day, 
and he sleeps poundly at night. Passing through a 
hong one day, I was forcibly impressed with the 


apparent misery and the real happiness of the 
cooley's life. On the sides of the building, at con- 
siderable elevation from the ground, were some 
twenty or thirty shelves, intended for beds, arranged 
like the berths in a steamboat, consisting of rough 
boards with square wooden blocks for pillows. Each 
was inclosed by a coarse, blue mosquito netting, sus- 
pended on bamboo poles. A ladder was placed for 
the accommodation of the cooleys, and here they 
slept from January to December. 

They were not bothered with nightgowns; they 
are never bewildered with the mysteries of the 
toilette, and have the advantage on arising of be- 
ing dressed for the day. 

But the cooley "cares for none of these things;" 
he eats his rice with an appetite, reads a story book 
with tolerable facility, and when he has a little 
leisure, plays cards with his fellow-laborers, or goes 
to a sing song or theatre, unmindful of the dress 

He is an implicit slave to the person who employs 
him, only he seems to have a share in the emolu- 
ment of his occupation, judging from the keen inter- 
est he takes in it 

The teas. are mostly brought into the hong in 
large sized chests, and repacked and sorted into 
smaller, according to the fancy of the purchaser. 

All the business appertaining to the hong seems to 
be carried on inside of it ; it is not only a place to 
store and sell teas in, but the chests are filled, closed, 
papered and marked within its bounds. 

You will see different parts of the floor covered 
with boxes, some large and some small, aod into 


these the cooleys are shaking teas. Each box con- 
tains a canister of metal resembling tin, but which 
is not heavier than pasteboard, and may be cut with 
a penknife. 

The ordinary teas are poured loosely in, and the 
better sorts are inclosed in the soft bamboo paper, 
and stamped with Chinese characters, each package 
being half a pound or more in weight. These are 
placed in the canister, which is then closed with a 
lid, and afterwards securely fastened down by the 
top of the chest. The canisters are made close by. 
Look around, and a few rods off you will see three or 
four expert hands turning the large sheets of the 
prepared metal into shape. 

The operators, knowing the required size, have a 
cubic block placed on the metal sheet, which, capa- 
ble of bending like paper, is folded over the block, 
and assuming its shape, the edges of the canisters are 
instantly soldered by a second hand. A third, with 
the aid of a wooden form, prepares the lids, and 
thus a knot of half a dozen workers, keeping stead- 
ily at their tasks, will make a large number of can- 
isters in a day. 

The teas being sorted into the required sized 
chests, are placed on the ground in long rows, and 
though the weight of each kind is known, the pur- 
chaser has the privilege of walking over them, and 
any one that he thinks particularly full, he may 
select as an average of the whole. 

The cooleys and other workmen about the hong, 
are not more busy than the proprietors themselves. 
The tea merchants are generally men of intelligence, 
honest]^, and liberality. 


Should a chest of tea turn out to be spurious on 
its arrival in America, the purchaser has only to 
send to Canton a statement of the fact, and another 
is furnished of good quality without hesitation. 

The old hong system being broken up, the number 
of tea traders has increased greatly, and much differ- 
ence is noticeable between the ancient merchants 
and those of new growth. 

The Cohong consisted of twelve or thirteen men, 
and they were all bound for each other. Business 
was thus conducted with them very safely and 

At the head of these was Houqua, a merchant of 
more celebrity than any other Oriental. Distin- 
guished for his immense wealth, his liberality, and 
his many, kind acts to foreigners, he attained a great 
age, and died five or six years since sincerely la- 
mented by all who ever had occasion to deal with 
him. It is a pleasant thing to hear of Houqua in 
Canton, nothing is ever said excepting in his praise. 
There are a great many anecdotes told of him. 

It is said that a gentleman who had lately arrived 
in China, wished much to meet him, and at length 
being presented, began a rather formal speech about 
the pleasure of seeing him. Houqua was always 
ready for business, and in the midst of his harangue, 
cut him short with, ** Hab got price current?" 

The visitor at Canton can often tell Houqua's 
buildings and hongs at a glance, from their superior 
neatness and regularity; every thing that he owned 
looks as if it belonged to a methodical systematic 

But one of his buildings, a fort on the rivejf below 


Canton, has been undermined by the current and 

It stood upon a point of land where the river 
forks, and during the British invasion, the Chinese 
threw stones into the stream at both passages, to 
prevent the foreigners ascending. The current thus 
pent up, swept over the point, undermining the fort, 
which in a short time was utterly carried away. 

The wealth of Houqua made him a conspicuous 
mark for the rapacity of the mandarins, and he was, 
according to an expressive term, well squeezed hy 
them, and his credulity was played upon by those 
vilest of the clerical profession, Buddhist priests. 

So much importance is attached to the rites of 
burial in China, that priests are often employed to 
look for ^ sacred place for interment, and Houqua 
being anxious that his father's bones should repose' 
in holy ground, paid the priests for many years to 
search for the required spot. 

Of course these worthy ministers were baffled in ^ 
their search from year to year, as long as there was 
any chance that Houqua would pay. In this man- 
ner for more than twenty years the ashes of the 
bong merchant's father werer kept above ground, 
and Houqua's son, with the same commendable but 
mistaken zeal, now fees the lying wretches, and the 
old man in his turn is still unburied. 

But with all his wealth and influence, Houqua 
had less power than the lowest mandarin. He had 
the privilege of the state dress, purchased from the 
government for an immense sum, but this conferred 
nothing more than show, and at the beck of power 
he was likely to be stripped of it in an instant. 


In China wealth is no avenue to power, and is 
always subordinate to talent; and any one, who by 
merit had risen from the lowest grade, had a better 
chance of filling the highest offices of the empire 
than Houqua by the aid of money solely. 

One of the most beautiful of the American traders 
has been named after him, and a more rapid sailer 
seldom spreads her white canvass to the breeze. 

Samqua, whose hong we have mentioned, is also 
quite celebrated, not only for his mercantile repu- 
tation, but for his handsome face and perfect mous- 

He has been one of the most fortunate of the 
Canton merchants; he has managed to retire with a 
large property, and has entered public life, and re- 
ceived some post of honor in the north of China. 

Linchong is another of well-earned reputation; 
he has not been so fortunate, however, having found 
out that hong merchants fail as well as less favored 

About the season that the teas come down to 
Canton, the Chinese dealers come to the foreign fac- 
tories with musters or samples of them, in nice little 
tin canisters, with the name of the owner written 
on paper, pasted down the sides, and you can ap- 
prove and select such as you like; the hongs are 
filled ready for your purchases, and you have but to 
name the quantity. 

The business of all the hongs is in great measure 
conducted through the pursers. 

They act between the Chinese and the foreigners ; 
they bring in the accounts to the shipping houses, 
and also receive orders for cargoes. One of the pest 


known of the Canton pursers is Panhoyqua's; he 
goes by the English title of Pat-boy, and answers to 
the name readily. Indeed he considers it one of 
honor, and has never heard of Dickens. 

He is quite an amusing character, very sociable 
with foreigners, and never refuses a glass of wine if 
he happens to come in about dinner time. But give 
Pat-boy an order for tea, to have a certain quantity 
put up in small boxes within a certain time, and it 
is done even at shorter notice than the limit. 

Go to Punhoyqua's shortly after the order has 
been given, and numbers of workmen are employed 
for you; some bringing in the small boxes, others 
filling them, and others again securing them firmly 
with rattans. Some are occupied in pasting on the 
labels, on which are printed the name of the vessel, 
of the tea merchant, of the tea, of the Canton for- 
warding house, also the initials of the purchasing 
house, and the number of the lot. These papers are 
printed rapidly, for they are cut by one set of hands 
to the proper size for the use of the others who 
stamp them. 

The names of the Chinese merchant, of the tea, 
and of the Canton houses, are stereotyped, and only 
the initials, the ship's name, and number, are to be 

These are carved in blocks of wood, and the 
whole fastened into a frame. 

Then in a little space, just large enough for work, 
a Chinese will sit down, snatch up a paper in one 
hand, and stamp it instantly with the wooden block 
letters, which are moistened with the coloring mix- 
ture used in printing. 



The typographer has no immense establishment, 
with signs on the outside of ^^ Book and Job Print- 
ing," but he and his materials occupy no more 
space than is absolutely necessary, and this is one 
of the many ways in which things are done in 

The myriads of people aid each other. One set of 
men continually perform one part of an operation, 
and then their work passes to another set for the 
next step. 

They haye often been likened to bees, and the 
comparison holds well, excepting that there are no 
drones among the Chinese. Their most absolute 
law is/work or starve. 

WUen the teas are fairly ready to be conveyed to 
the snips, heavy cargo boats are moored at the foot 
of the hong, its crew prepare for the chop, and the 
cooleys within the hong stand ready to carry the 

Every box is properly weighed, papered, and 
bound with split rattan, the bill of the purchase 
has gone duly authenticated to the foreign factories, 
and the teas bid farewell to their native soil. 

The word is given, the cooleys, place each his two 
chests in the ropes swinging from his shoulder bar, 
lifts them from the ground, and with a brisk walk 
carries them on board the chop -boat, where they are 
welcomed With open arms, and comfortably stowed 

As each chest is carried out of the hong, a fellow 
stands ready, and as if he was about to stab the 
chest, thrusts at each one, two sharp sticks, with red 
ends, leaving them jammed between the rattan and 


the tea-box ; one of these sticks is taken out when 
the chest leaves the chop-boat, and the other by a 
hand when it reaches the deck, and as soon as one 
hundred chests are passed into the ship, the sticks 
are counted, and thus serve as tallies. 

In the busy season the chop boats are seen push- 
ing down the river with every favorable tide. The 
current runs like a mill-race, and the broad bottomed ^ 
cargo lighters can scarcely do aught against it. 

They start for the vessels at any hour of the day 
or night as soon as the water begins to rush again 
towards the sea. 

The crew do not seem to care whether the passage 
to Whampoa takes two days or two hours, and 
wonder extremely why the captain of the ship is in 
a hurry. 

Nearly every chop boat contains a whole family, 
father, mother, and children ; all assist in working 
her, and sometimes an old grandparent is included 
in the domestic circle. At the stem of tlie boat the 
wife has a little cooking apparatus, and prepares the 
cheap rice, for the squad of eager gormandizers, who 
bolt down quantities, without fear of indigestion. 

The family sit down on the deck, the men keep 
an eye to the wind and a hand on the tiller, the 
mother knots the cord that goes around the baby's 
waist into an iron ring, and feeling secure from fears 
of ''a man overboard," chats sociably, occasionally 
enforcing a mild reproof to a vagabond scion, by a 
tap on the head with her chop -stick. They have 
but one dish, rice, rice, rice, and of a very ordinary 
sort and of a pink color, but they seem to thrive 
upon it The meal over, the men smoke their pipes 


of peace, and the mother washes her cooking utensils 
with water drawn from the muddy river, and then 
strapping her infant on to her back, overhauls the 
scanty wardrobe, and mends the ragged garments. 

It is singular to see how accurately the chop-boat 
is brought alongside of the ship that it is destined 

No matter how strong the wind blows or the tide 
runs, the sails are trimmed as occasion requires, and 
the big scull does its offices without fail. The boat 
runs under the quarter, scrapes along the edge, the 
ropes are thrown, caught, and belayed, and the crew 
prepare for passing the cargo into the vessel's hold. 

The tea chests are handed in one by one from the 
chop-boat to the deck, and by means of slanting 
boards lodged in the hold. 

The stevedores that load the ships are very 
smart active men. They have also good heads, and 
measuring the length, breadth, and height of the 
hold, calculate pretty accurately how many chests 
the ship will carry, and the number of small boxes 
to be squeezed into narrow places. 

When the hold is full, the hatch is fastened down 
and caulked, as exposure to the salt air injures the 

The very iSnest qualities are so delicate, that they 
cannot be exported ; as however tightly sealed, their 
flavor during a sea voyage would deteriorate. 

As soon as the merchants who come down from 
the north with their lots of teas have disposed of 
them, they go back to their own country rejoicing. 

When I was in Canton the Yeckhing chop of tea, 
which is considered the best that comes to market, 



was purchased by Russell &> Co. for a house in the 
United states, and as a compliment to Yeckhing, he 
and his suite were invited to dine sociably. The 
invitation was accepted with due thanks for the 
honor, and the august party came at the appointed 

The Chinese servant boys, who waited on the 
table, were especially unwilling to display to their 
countrymen their degradation in serving foreigners, 
and about dinner time, with one accord, left the 

But it fortunately happened that this came to the 
ears of one of the most energetic 'members of the 
house, who instantly threatened to "cuttee the count" 
of any boy who refused to serve the table. 

Now in plain English, to " cuttee the count" of a 
Chinaman is to keep no longer an account with him, 
whereby he may derive pecuniary benefit, and this 
terrible ostracism is an afiair of almost as much mo- 
ment as having his tail pruned. So the boys with 
smothered indignation returned to their places. 

Unable to speak English, the guest whom Russell 
&> Co. delighted to honor was attended by a linguist, 
a gentleman who is supposed to be a scholar, but 
who only succeeded in torturing harsh Chinese into 
the ridiculous jargon called China-Anglish. 

The whole party were evidently pleased with the 
appearance of the entertainment, and in their turn 
afforded some amusement to the Europeans, by their 
awkward efforts in carving their food ; they holding 
their knives and forks perpendicularly, and sawing 
furiously. They seemed especially to wonder at the 
raisins which appeared with the desert, and several 


of them took a bunch, and carefully wrapped it ia 
tlieir handkerchiefs. 

They drank very little wine, and only seemed to 
like the hghter kinds. 

At length the gentleman at the head of the table 
rose, and proposing Yeckhing's health, made a little 
speech which the linguist translated into Chinese; 
and when the toast was drank, Yeckhing drained off 
his glass, and joined in the cheers which arose on ail 

Shortly afterwards Yeckhing rose, and in his turn, 
made, in newspaper phrase, ^^a neat and appropriate 
reply," which was rendered by the linguist some- 
what as follows : 

*' Yeckhing, chin chin the gentlemen alia proper. 
Yeckhing very much oblige to soupcarg, who have 
wantchee buy him cargo pigeon. He chin chin 
gentlemen good voyagee, hopee go home his coun- 
try No. 1 good, and catchee many per cent," 

The meaning of this was ; Yeckhing thanks the 
gentlemen assembled, for their polite attention, and 
is very much obliged to the supercargo who bought 
his chop ; he wishes him a pleasant return voyage, 
and hopes that he will derive a handsome profit on 
the purchase. 

Soon the old man rose to go, and having shaken 
hands with every one in the most cordial noianner, he 
slowly found his way out of the dining room in a 
series of almost everlasting bows. The spectacle 
was certainly amusing as a specimen of Chinese 
manners, and if he watched us as narrowly as we 
did him, he must have stamped us as thoroughly 
barbarian. For before he was half across the room, 


it was quite useless to think of returning each bow 
that he made, and I for one felt somewhat as Gen- 
eral Jackson, who became so tired at one of his 
levees with bowing and shaking hands, that at last 
be could only wink at the people presented ; and as 
Jack Downing, who relates the story, '^ kinder 
reached around a hand, and shook for the Gineral," 
so I should have been happy had a friend in need 
appeared and patiently returned the innumerable 
bows and scrapes of Yeckhing and his polite 

Tlie tea plant, so essentially the production of 
China, and as yet cultivated with complete success, 
no where else belongs in the vegetable kingdom to 
the natural order of ColunmiferaB, and has a white 

The stem is bushy, with numerous branches, and 
very leafy. The plant grows to the height of three 
to six feet. 

It is a mild narcotic, and in all probability perfectly 
harmless, as the Chinese universally drink it very 
strong, without sugar or milk. The tea shrub is a 
very hardy plant, growing readily from the equatCM: 
to the 45'' of latitude. 

But in China, strange as it may seem, the cultiva- 
tion of tea is restricted to five provinces, viz., Qnan- 
tung, Fokien, Kiangnan, Kiangsi, and Chekiang. 

Fokien is most celebrated for its blacks, and Ki- 
angnan for greens. 

It is only from these provinces that tea is brought 
for the great export demand, though it is grown in 
every other for mere local consumption. Tea is also 
produced in Japan and Cochin China. 


It grows best in a hilly country, and great care 
and skill are requisite for its successful culture. 

The climate that suits it best in China seems to 
be that of the country included between the twenty- 
fifth and thirty-third degrees of north latitude, and 
between the one hundred and twenty-second degrees 
of east longitude ; the plants do not yield a crop 
under two or three years. 

The tea trade has been carried on about two cen- 
turies, but for the first few years its progress was 
very slow. 

In 1664 the East India Company imported about 
two pounds of it as a present to the king of England, 
and in 1667 they only brought home one hundred 
pounds of it. Since that period the trade has been 
steadily increasing, and now upwards of forty mil- 
lions of pounds of tea are imported into Great 
Britain, and eight to twelve millions to the United 

In the years 1844 and 1846, (the time of my visit,) 
the season beginning the 1st of July, the amount 
of teas sent to the United States to the 13th of Jan- 
uary, 1845, was more than nine million pounds, and 
five months and a half remained of the season, and 
many ships remained in Whampoa. 

To accommodate the increasing product of many 
years, the great hongs of Canton have been built, 
and truly they present a wonderful monument of 
Chinese industry and method. They border on the 
river in continuous succession for more than a mile, 
all busy, all resounding with the noise of toil, and 
ready to pour forth their stores at a moment's 


And besides the hongs that Europeans visit, on 
one side of the river and in one quarter of the city, 
are scattered vast store-houses on the Honam bank, 
and others above the Shaneem district, which, though 
in a manner shut out from European eyes, contribute 
to the great account. 

Some idea of the life, bustle, and magnitude of the 
hongs, the persons they employ, the capital they cir- 
culate, and the immensity and importance of the 
trade to which they are devoted, may be formed by 
those who have visited the bazaars of Constantino* 
pie, or the mighty docks of London. 




The town of Whampoa is a sort of intermediate 
resting place between Macao and Canton. It is 
situated on a little island ten or twelve miles below 
the great city, and known as the anchorage ground 
of all the foreign ships. The scenery around it is 
pleasant, several islets are formed in the sinuosities 
of the stream, which are studded here and there 
with small villages, each crowded with swarms of 

The town of Whampoa is hardly perceptible from 
the river, for it is placed in the centre of its iriaod, 
and almost concealed from view by the lofty trees 
planted around its walls. The meadows that stretch 
to the edge of the water, are green, luxurious, culti- 
vated, and irrigated with tortuous canals, and border- 
ing one side of the island cluster' the wretched huts 
of the poorest of the population, and which are often 
mistaken for the town itself. 

The ships all lie below the town, the American 
and smaller English vessels in one part of the river, 
called Whampoa Reach, while the enormous India- 
men, like an imposing fleet of men-of-war, choose 
deeper water, and anchor still further down the river 
in Blenheim Reach. 


The great pagoda forms a most conspicuous land- 
mark, and may be seen for many miles from the 
deck of a vessel approaching anchorage. Another 
ancient and ruined tower stands on the summit of a 
lofty hill, close to the lower mooring ground, and 
has for many centuries looked down upon strange 
fleets of stranger nations, though the religious cere- 
monies to which it was dedicated were forgotten by 
the natives of the soil long before the first western 
bark cast anchor in those waters. 

The foreign fleets form a sort of city in them- 
selves ; the life they display is quite peculiar, inter- 
esting, and agreeable. 

The crews, of course, have but little holiday, and 
it 18 necessary that they should be kept steadily at 
work to debar them from mischief, but the captains 
while in port have a jolly time of it. They visit and 
dine with each other, sail boats, amuse themselves 
with the Chinese, and brag of their ships. 

They are of all sorts, sizes, complexions, temperSi 
and dispositions, as various as the magnitude and 
rig of their vessels. 

There are English, Danish, Dutch, French, and 
American ships, barks, brigs, and schooners. 

The most conspicuous of all are the Indiamen. 
Some of these confine their voyages to trade between 
Canton and Bombay or Calcutta, and others sail 
around the Cape of Good Hope to merry England. 
These vessels have two or three tiers of gun ports, 
and go heavily armed. In- time of war they are 
capable of being converted into perfect line of battle 
ships, and have occasionally done eminent service in 
beating off and capturing hostile vessels. 


They require numbers to man them, and are usu- 
ally worked by Lascars, the Indian sailors. These 
creatures are feeble, timid, and very sensitive to cold, 
but sail for almost nothing, live on a little rice, and 
are well fitted to endure the raging heats of Asia. 
They are commanded by English officers, who speak 
their Hindostanee language, and are for the most 
part treated like dogs; when their work is done, 
they stretch themselves on the open deck, and sleep 
in their clothes. Half a dozen of them will not 
equal in energy, strength, and fitness for duty one 
good Anglo-Saxon sailor. 

An English captain, who came on board our barque 
of three hundred and fifty tons, learned to his sur- 
prise that she was worked by ten hands, and said 
that bis brig of two hundred and forty tons was 
short-handed with fifty Lascars. 

The Indiamen of large size are manned of course 
proportionately, and nothing can look more imposing 
than one of these three deckers coming down the 

If the weather is calm, the crew are employed in 
kedging to the animated sound of a fife, and the 
decks are swarming with dusky turbaned beings. 

One of these vessels, the Balcarris, so named from 
an English earl, was capable of stowing twenty- 
four thousand chests of tea in her hold, not a pound 
being put on her main deck. Her accommodations 
were unrivalled, her dining-room forty feet long, and 
all her interior arrangements for comfort and luxury 
thoroughly systematized. 

Many of these ships are built of teak, which is 
almost as hard as adamant, and capable of re^sting 


the elements for a century, and excepting that East 
Indiamen are generally overrun with cockroaches, 
they are the most comfortable vessels in the world. 

We took a sampan one day, and pulled around 
to the different ships ; we went to the Indiamen, and 
were treated in royal style, and from them to an old 
Danish vessel that had been hogged in launching, 
and nevertheless had sailed successfully for twenty- 
six years. We were heartily welcomed by a rotund 
officer, who spoke in gutterals that smacked of Co- 
penhagen, kindly enveloped in clouds of redolent 
tobacco smoke, and made half drunk by the contin- 
uous taste of '^ schnapps,'* as it gurgled into the 
same tall slender glasses that sparkle in the light of 

Then we saw an opium schooner, with her heavy 
guns run out inquiringly, a large crew of '^ rough 
and readys," and a commander with a &rm set 
mouth and hair trigger eye. 

We visited a genuine ''down easter," a ship that 
had formerly been on the coast of Sumatra, cheating 
ia pepper for Salem deacons. We found the mate 
in his shirt sleeves; be observed that it was ''dread- 
ful warm weather," called to the steward for an apple 
pie, to "take and make some lemonade," and said 
"the way these here Chinese doo smash round the 
tea-boxes you have no idee on't." 

When a vessel arrives at Whampoa she is boarded 
by three sets of beggars, the compradores, the wash- 
women and the physicians. The first of these are 
respectable ; they open an account, supply the vessel 
with fresh provisions, never cheat when they have 
the slightest fear of detection, and take the pigs 



ashore occasionally, squeeze the young ones breath- 
less, and then bring them on board to show that 
they died natural deaths. 

The washerwomen only dye the begrimmed ac- 
cumulations of the voyage with a deeper hue by 
soaking them in the river. They are poor, honest, 
amphibious animals. 

But the doctors thrive in the general squallor of 
Whampoa. This is about as unhealthy a quagmire 
as China affords, for the immense banks of alluvial 
mud, left dry at low water, give rise to pestilent, 
fever-breeding exhalations. The practitioners have 
found this out ] they call a sickly month a good sea- 
son; they shower professional cards as thick as 
snow storms ; they are so occupied in soliciting busi- 
ness, that they forget to deliver their letters of intro- 
duction till they are about to leave you; they happen 
in before seven in the morning, and kindly remain 
to breakfast ; they kill immediately, or cure, in 
course of time ; and, punctual to the last, bring in a 
bill as long as the ship's manifest. 

Seriously speaking, I never elsewhere met with 
such a series of quacks as those who infest Wham- 
poa. Sometimes vessels coming in will ship their 
cargoes at short notice, and again remain several 
weary months in port, and in this case the doctors 
are delighted. 

If the stay is short, the captain looks dignified and 
important; has lengthened conversations with com- 
pradores, replenishes his small stores in a hurry, and 
goes to Canton and signs his bills of lading with 
energetic speed. It is usual to present ships with a 
new letter bag on taking leave. This is of snowy 


canvass, with the vessel's name neatly stamped, and 
stands with open jaws to swallow Jonah-like the 
letters, which writers deposit for friends half way- 
round the globe. The last bill is signed, the bag shuts 
its mouth to further entreaty, the captain shoulders 
it, bids adieu, hurries to his boat, his ship weighs 
anchor, and makes sail unceremoniously. 

But if the ship is de^stined to long anchorage, the 
master does nothing in a hurry. 

If he escapes the fever, he is fortunate ; he has his 
ship properly cleaned and painted from truck to 
kelson; coils away odds and ends of unsightly rope, 
and leans on his oars of patience till it shall please 
the supercargo to return. 

Boston Jack may frequently be seen on board the 
American ships. This worthy derives his name 
from "the town of Bosting," and has most probably 
forgotten that he has a Chinese name, as he answers 
to the other so readily. He is a good specimen of 
his race, and quite a gentleman in his appearance 
and manner. 

He has a small pen for a house, built on piles at 
the edge of the river, and several storehouses adjoin- 
ing, where he keeps every thing that a ship can 
require, from spare spars down to India pale ale. 

He manufactures chicken coops, and supplies food 
for the feathered bipeds, and hangs fondly over the 
pigpen. When due notice is given to him that the 
services of the porkers are once more needed on 
bo9,rd ship, he puts them into a boat and pulls along- 

At his bidding, a rope run through a block at the 
main yard arm, and terminating in a noose, is low- 


ered to bim, and passing the tightened cord under . 
the projecting tusks of the animals, he beholds them 
in melancholy succession go aloft while the whole 
river resounds with their pathetic yells. 

They sound to him like a requiem, for he has con- 
eeiyed an almost fatherly fondness for the grunters, 
while they have been sheltered under his hospitable 
roof; and it seems hke severing ties of affection 
when the hard-hearted crew enjoy the fun and recall 
his playmates. 

Jack has an account book, and in justice to him 
keeps it honestly, and supplies the vessels with the 
best of fresh meats and vegetables every day ; he 
makes a present to the captain as he is about to 
leave, and when the vessel is weighing anchor, he 
comes alongside, and puts into the hands of an ur- 
chin a pack of crackers to set fire to, as a chin chin, 
or farewell, or bon voyage. 

The youngster mightily enjoys to hear the crack- 
ers fiz and bang, but he unites economy and thrift 
with pleasure. 

He has the cracjcers suspended to the end of a 
pole, and a kind of net beneath them, so that any 
that may fall unexploded he prevents from going 
into the water and keeps them, through Jack's lib- 
erality, as a perquisite for his trouble. 

Not the least heroic actions of the captains in port 
are the sharp lookouts they keep for river pirates. 
These fellows, though seldom seen near the vessels, 
hold a rod of terror over the peaceful Chinese, and 
plunder them whenever they have a good oppor- 

If detected and captured their heads are cut off 


without the slightest compunction, and, during my 
visit, some thirty at one time were decapitated on 
the Aceldama of Canton. 

The Ladrones, in old days, were formidable foes, 
and though they were finally overcome, their ras- 
cally descendants have the will, without the power, 
of cutting as many throats as their ancestors. 

But it is time that we leave the ships and go 

We may enter the town from Jack's house, and 
pass through a line of houses and shops of the most 
wretched description to reach it, and then must trav- 
erse several fields before we come to Whampoa 

The shops were ihean and dirty, and their pro- 
prietors evidently very poor ; they seemed to have 
nothing to sell beyond joss sticks, cheap tea, and 
ordinary rice. 

In one shop we saw a fellow engaged in beating 
some kind of grain. He had a large stone basin 
and a heavy pestle attached to a board, and turning 
on a pivot, and. supporting his hands by means of a 
bar resting on upright supports at the side of the 
basin, he, by means pf treading on the end of the 
board, with each foot alternately, gave to the pestle 
a constant and equal motion. 

It fell as regularly as a steam trip-hammer, and 
China certainly has no need of labor-saving ma- 
chines when her dense population perform every act 
as well if not quite as rapidly without them. 

The path we pursued was of stone, about two feet 
broad, leading through the beautiful meadows, and 
so it is all over China. 



In the greater part of the empire there are no roads 
at all, and mandarins, bearing important dispatches, 
ride along these paths on horseback. They are of 
granite, which much resembles outs, and a little 
elevated above the level of the fields. There are 
so many people to a square mile in China, that 
there is .little room to spare for public highways, 
and no necessity for them, as men occupy the place 
of beasts of burthen. 

The fields also have no fences, and are divided by 
little trenches, irrigated, and not more than two or 
three inches broad, to occupy as little space as pos- 

The public buildings in the suburbs of Whampoa 
are on a corresponding scale bf magnificence with 
the shops, the principal one being a low, long, dis- 
mal custom-house for fixing duties on goods. that 
never enter it, and in charge of a fat oflicial who 
never has any thing to do. 

The sign manual of his authority is a red flag- 
staff, with a sort of landing near the top, and 
en ensign above it suspended to a slanting stick. 
Beneath the shadow of this broad pennant the 
favored understrapper displays his dignity, and, like 
the pubUcan, rejoices that he is not as other men 

Whampoa being only a puffed-up village, of course 
has no great show to offer in oflicers of government, 
but such as they are they seem to evince the same 
grandity of spirit as their more elevated compeers 
in large cities ; for, after traversing the fields, and 
being about to enter the town, which seined to 
invite our attention, we were surprised to hear a 


ioQd call behind us^ and turning around saw wad-*- 
dting along a puffing officer, who, with an air worthy 
of an emperor, told vts not to enter the gates by any 

Pindihg that' absolute commands were not pre- 
cisely calculated to effect his wishes, he had recourse 
to entreaty, and said he was fearful of the conse- 
quences if we attempted to force our way. We 
yielded to his desires, and he seemed pleased, and, in 
justice to the herd of ragamuffins who followed him, 
I mu^ say that they displayed commendable zeal in 
bawling at U3 menacingly as soon as our backs were 
turned. They had hesitated, while we stood in an 
attitude of parley, but at the proper moment showed 
their determination that the sanctity of Whampoa 
should not be disturbed. 

We turned from the gates, which were strongly 
built in a stone arch with embrasures on either side 
for cannon, and struck into a by-path leading into 
the burying ground. It was a much more beautiful 
cemetery than I had expected to find in heathen 
China, and bore a favorable contrast to many of the 
ghostly grave-yards that appal the heart around our 
own cities. 

The spot devoted to the ashes of the Chinese, who 
had made their home upon this little island, was 
sequestered and beautiful. 

It was set apart from the fields, and occupied one 
side of a gently shelving hill, and Jiooked as though 
no interments had taken place in it for some time. 
Gigantic trees were scattered at intervals, and threw 
a deep shade down upon the silent tombs. The 
grass was short and green, and the whole appear- 


ance of the secluded place bore testimony to the 
reverential care which the Chinese bear to the last 
resting ground of their ancestors. It is the same in 
the remotest hamlet of the empire ; the sire claims 
the willing affection of the son as long as life lasts, 
and when death shuts him out of the busy throng, 
the child, as an instinctive duty, pays the rites of 
burial his profound respect, and yearly repairs to the 
sacred grave of his father. 

It is not that custom urges him to comply with 
the annual visit to the tombs ; the yearning of filial 
piety looks beyond the portal of futurity, and though 
his ideas of another state may be vague and dreamy, 
he so associates them with life itself, that he would 
feel as if neglecting a living being dependent on him, 
were he to fail in his tribute to the dead. 

Christianity teaches mankind the absolute neces- 
sity of a spiritual existence. Paganism cannot with- 
hold from the heathen this essential truth, but does 
not instruct him how to prepare for it. 

The burying-grounds, as I have observed in the 
former part of this chapter, are always on the side of 
a barren hill, and great care is exercised in selecting 
not only a favorable spot for individual interment, 
but for the cemetery itself. 

A site that looks towards any expanse of water 
is considered a fortunate location, which was the 
case in the ground of Whampoa, it being almost in 
sight of the shipping. 

The forms of the tombs are singular; they are 
precisely in shape of the Greek omega Si, appropri- 
ately signifying, as many writers on China have re- 
marked, the end of all things. 


They are covered on the top with sodded earth, 
which is kept carefully neat and trimmed, and on 
either side of the door of the tomb are cut deep in 
the hard granite, a few characters. No pompous 
and lying inscription blazons to the stranger the yir- 
tues and the actions of the poor tenant within, but 
his age, bis name, and that of his sovereign, appear 

The Chinese think as much of decent funeral cere* 
monies as the simple negroes on our southern plan- 
tations, and every family on the mournful occasion 
spends to the utmost of its po\ver in paying ample 
reverence to the inanimate clay. 

The corpse is dressed in the finest apparel ; can- 
dles and incense are burned, and with Buddhists, 
the soul of the departed is especially prayed for out 
of purgatory or hell. The Buddhist hell is full of 
terrible punishments, and the representations of it on 
rice paper are often mistaken for genuine Chinese 

. These scenes of infernal vengeance may sometimes 
be found in Picture street in Canton, with every 
species of torture depicted that an inquisition could 

Some are divided info two representations, one 
showing the criminal brought prisoner before his 
judge, and made to behold every act of his life in a 
mirror held up to his gaze, and below are legions of 
demons ready to spit him before a furnace, or saw 
him into shreds with impatient glee.* 

Observances connected with death vary in differ- 
ent provinces of the empire ; in s^me a hole is cut in 
the roof of the house, to allow the ghost of the 


departed to quit the mansion with all possible speeid, 
and the wailing of the females in a family is eveiy 
where prevalent. 

Music, which in other countries is entirely excluded 
from all except military funerals, is common in 
China, during the time that the body remains in the 
house, and in procession to the place of interment. 

During the ceremony of burial, pieces of paper, 
money are scattered to propitiate any demons that 
may be supposed lurking about, and representations 
of clothes, animals, and necessary utensils of dimin- 
utive size, formed of paper, are burned for the use of 
the defunct in another world. 

Some of our Indian tribes were acciistomed to 
have their horses, &c. buried with them ; the Chinese 
count the cost, and are quite satisfied with the 
shadow instead of the substance. 

The coffins used by the Chinese are peculiar in 
shape, and wholly different from those of western 
nations. They are cylindrical, resembling the trunk 
of a tree, and made of very hard, heavy wood, im- 
pervious to damp and insects. 

Within they are hollowed to the required shape, 
and the sides are of immense thickness. They 
are made smooth, carefully sealed and' varnished 
with a gum of such adhesive quality, that it resists 
the inroads of time, and prevents the remains from 
being at all offensive to the smell. 

Canton is supposed to produce the best coffins in 
the empire, which leads some who have a choice of 
location to wish to breathe their last within its walls; 
but be that as it may, the manufacture of them is a 
very large and important branch of trade. 


Every one who dies is anxious, or rather his 
friends are solicitous, that he should have as fine a 
coffin as means will permit, and thus the tariff of 
prices ranges from fifty to one thousand dollars. 

As the rich are sometimes unburied for many 
years, as in the case of Houqua's father, it is a mat- 
ter of some moment to have a fitting repository for 
the remains; and thus necessity as well as pride will 
dictate a large expenditure. 

The coffins, even after they are carried to the cem- 
etery, are nor always put under ground; they are 
often suspended a foot above the surface from cross- 
sticks, and thus exposed to wind and weather, remain 
for years. 

Several of those in the Whampoa grave-yard are 
thus situated, and the peculiar reasons for this mode 
of preservation I do not know. 

There are no grave-yards in Chinese cities ; the 
people always seek a sequestered spot, as they have 
a great horror of exposing or removing the bones of 
their dead. 

The family of the deceased person set up a stone 
tablet in the house, inscribed with the name and 
virtues of the departed, and keeping lamps burning 
near, make a kind of shrine to which they pay their 

Near relatives mourn several months ; they allow 
their hair to grow, take the red silk out of their tails, 
and put in white, and put on white or gray dresses, 
the apparel of mourning. 

To introduce a ludicrous anecdote on a grave sub- 
ject, may seem profanation, but I cannot forbear to 
introduce again my old shopkeeper friend Chong- 


I met him one morning vested in the pale hue of 
grief. I asked him the matter, and he said, '^ M7 
son have die, to-morrow I be very angry inside;'' 
meaning, probably, that he should be very sorry on 
the day of the funeral. 

When the mighty Emperor dies, his subjects as 
one man are called upon to mourn for him. No 
amusements take place for one hundred days, the 
people deplore him as a parent, even in the most dis- 
tant hut of his dominions. 

What other sovereign is mourned for at one and 
the same period of time by three hundred and sixty 
millions of his own subjects ? 




Though the liberty of the foreigner in Canton is 
almost entirely restricted to the reeking suburbs of 
the seething city, yet there are several spots adjacent 
towards which he may direct his steps, and enjoy a 
pure atmosphere. 

The nearest and most attractive of all these points 
is the island of Honam, which is formed in the river 
directly opposite to the city. 

It is several miles in extent, is covered with nu- 
merous crowded villages, beautifully cultivated fields, 
has numbers of heavy forts, and is distinguished 
above all for its enormous Buddhist temple, in which 
a herd of vile priests lead a solitary and monastic 

We formed a party one afternoon, to visit the 
island ; we were accompanied by Dr. Parker, a gen- 
tleman of distinguished attainments, and widely 
known as a zealous missionary, and who upon this 
occasion acted as interpreter. 

We descended the stone steps at the foot of the 

garden, and found as usual a number of clamorous 

sampan owners, and selecting an old lady about 

sixty, squeezed ourselves, some eight in number, 

into her boat. 



I never knew before the elastic qualities of a 
sampan; though in appearance only just large 
enough for two persons, four times as many, and 
the old woman added, making nine in all, were 
safely ferried over. 

The swiftly running current forms a number of 
whirlpools, called chow-chow water, and it was a 
study to see how thoroughly the boat-woman under- 
stood the whole of these disturbers of the public 
peace, how she edged along some of the big dan- 
gerous fellows, and disregarding others, sent the 
rapid sampan directly through them. 

As we approached the Honam shore, we descried 
several canals running from the river into the island, 
and the houses built along them had steps leading to 
the water as to a sidewalk, and balconies overhung 
the muddy current. The whole aspect of these 
canals, their narrow winding spaces, the glimpses of 
sky seen between the high buildings, the overarch- 
ing bridges, and the sampans flitting to and fro, not 
unlike in shape to gondolas, bore a startling resem- 
blance to Venice. 

We landed at the foot of old worn stone steps, 
built in the bank of the island, and overshadowed 
by several gigantic trees, which among other uses 
formed a cheap tent for beggars to congregate 
under, and gave shelter to several dealers in con- 

The streets in this suburb were of the most 
wretched description. Narrow and filthy beyond 
any that I had ever seen before, they were swarming 
with the very scum of China's populace; the shops 
were dingy, small, and if we may believe that rascals 


exist in the Celestial Empire, they seemed to be all 
congregated in them, i30 keen and ravenous did their 
keepers look. 

They had evidently] false balances to cheat in 
every way, and selling goods fairly was an indis- 
cretion that they never committed in the course of 
their lives. 

We encountered a coffin maker who was aptly 
placed on a corner, as if to remind men of the turn- 
ing point in their lives, but he looked fat and cheer- 
ful, despite his grim occupation. 

He had a number of workmen engaged in sawing 
the enormous boards into the proper shape, and 
going through every process connected with the 
business, and a number of the finished receptacles 
reposed on shelves. Close by was a dealer in the 
paper clothes, spoken of in the previous chapter; 
these were about large enough for a baby's doll, and 
tjolored according to the taste of the buyer, so that 
if a person, while on earth, was at all particular in 
the hue of his clothes, his wishes in that respect 
might be exactly complied with. 

We left the houses and the dingy suburbs behind 
us, and stretched out into the country. We found 
that the flag-stone pavenient of the street extended 
to the open meadows, and formed the foot-path, 
the sole species of road to be found in the south of 

• Our way led us along the bank of one of the 
canals ; we saw the same life among the boats as 
on the kindred river; even this little Honam island, 
that in olir own country would be left in the midst 
of its embracing stream utterly wild, had been 


deemed worthy of being pierced with canals, and 
planted and peopled. 

We saw numbers of people in the fields, and 
wherever we turned, at some little distance a cluster 
of dwellings glistened in the view. 

We came in a little while to a man seated at a 
table before his house, and he was engaged in making 
pearl buttons from the shell; he was very expert, 
and with the aid of a few apparently rude, but in his 
hands, serviceable instruments, he was able to make 
several hundred buttons in a day. These are after- 
wards sent to Canton, and exported in considerable 
quantities to England and America. 

We continued our way, and our attention was 
soon engrossed by another object. At the elid of 
one of the common villages of the dead, covered 
with time-worn tomb-stones, we saw a fellow, a sort 
of priest, the keeper of a private altar, and whose 
noble profession it was to humbug his c6untry- 

He had a little sort of shrine with a deaf idol in 
it, some smoking joss sticks and some magic slips of 

His victim, in this instance, was a woman, a 
creature of the lower class, who was poor, but not 
poorer than the hour she was born, and yeli she 
came to this solitary spot to pray for riches. What 
the amount of her desires was I had no opportunity 
of judging, but she was evidently a fervent worship- 
per, though imder the spell of the creature that bat- 
tened on her necessities, and made her poorer still by 
stealing from her mite. 

The owner of the shrine kindly invited us to {^ 


away, lest we should frighten the woman from her 
devotions, and deprive him of his fee ; but she, with 
a better feeling, declared she was not afraid of us, 
and begged that we would remain. 

Presently she was joined by a female companion, 
and they both lit pieces of paper and threw them in 
the air, and then tossed up the magic bamboos, and 
interpreted their fate according as they fell. 

They finally kueeled down and bowed their heads 
to the ground repeatedly, and uttered a kind of 

When they arose, the one who had interceded for 
us, put into the hands of the speculator in prophecies 
his fee, from which the unconscionable scoundrel 
did not offer to deduct the smallest discount for ready 
money. Whether the old lady ever came into pos- 
session of her fortune is very doubtful, and the 
keeper of the shrine, like the proprietor of a lottery 
office, no doubt wished her better luck next time. 

When the votaries had departed, the auger 
chuckled over 'his gains, snuffed out his joss sticks, 
and stood on the qui vive for another flat. 

We proceeded unmolested along the flag-stone 
path, and every now and then came to a village, 
each exactly built, so as to filch from the cultiva- 
ble land no more space than might just suffice for 
the crowded tenements. In every village seemed 
{o be some spot a few feet square, with a flag-staff 
in its centre, and a dirty looking squeezing shop or 
government hole, with a greasy official in it, whose 
greatest amusement it was to come to the door of 
his den, and stare at Fanquis, as if he had never 

seen them before. 



The people, totf, and the women especially, witfi 
the inherent curiosity of the sex, would assemble in 
little select knots of eight or ten, and try to look us 
out of countenance ; the children in arms were held 
up to see and imbibe a hatred of the pale devilish 
race that intruded, and the men were mostly too 
busy in the fields to notice us. 

The day was warm, and the laborers were almost 
entirely divested of clothing, the meadows were 
swarming with them engaged in hoeing the earth 
around the vegetables, which bore evidence of the 
skill and care upon them. Never have I seen better 
specimens of the agriculturist's hand; the earth 
seemed to be as fine as if it had been sifted through 
wire work, and the plants were green and lux* 

In various places along the line of pathway, were 
pits for compost and manure of various kinds, among 
which, no doubt, some of the tonsors savings from 
the shaven craniums of Canton found their place, 
and these pits were kept dry by drains which went 
all through the fields, and allowed superfluous rnois* 
ture to run down towards the low grounds of the 
island, and were further protected by coverings of 

They have also separate pits for liquid manuse, of 
which vast quantities are used, and with which they 
moisten the plants themselves in preference to put- 
ting it into the ground before the vegetables have 

Along the same path that we were walking in 
single file, every few moments a laborer would 
come at his dog-trot, and by his grunt give us warn- 

THE esanom cbinese. 151 

ing to get out of the way. Each one carried, by 
means of the eternal bar and ropes, two baskets of 

To carry a single one would be more inconvenient, 
80 economy is united with labor, and the cooley, 
like John Gilpin, carries weight on either side. . 

The instruments of agriculture in use among the 
Chinese are more like those of other nations than 
might be expected; a heavy hoe seems to^be the 
principal implement, and by means of it the laborer 
performs a great part of his work. 

But the nearest resemblance of any article in 
China to one of European manufacture devoted to 
the same purpose, is the winnowing machine. 

This is precisely similar to that in use in our own 
land, and in fact is the origin of ours. I was one 
day in a shop in Canton, £Cnd was surprised to see 
one, and still more when J learned that it was of 
bona fide Chinese work. The machine was in the 
first instance carried to Holland, thence was sent to 
England, and finally imported into the United 

We saw in the fields men and wom^i performing 
every part of the tillage, and only two or three spe-> 
cimens of the roughest buffaloes that can be imag* 
ined^ constituted the live stock of the farms of 

Human beings, though low enough in the scale of 
existence in China, are not yoked into ploughs, and 
these little buffaloes are kept for the purpose. 

They are very small and strong, and pasture as 
they best can on barren waste lands, which the peo- 
ple do not care to cultivate, and they may often be 


seen along the banks of the river endeavoring to 
gain an honest livelihood. - 

A great portion of the fields are covered with rice, 
of which there are two kinds, the white and the 
coarse pink, and the grain of each is somewhat 
larger than with us. All along the Canton river, for 
miles upon miles, the eye may sweep over vast areas 
of this plant. 

The soil and climate of China is favorable for 
almost any productions ; potatoes, for instance, are 
successfully cultivated near Macao, but the Chinese 
have not learned to eat them, and raise them exclu- 
sively for foreign shipping, and for the consumpticm 
of the Portuguese and other Europeans in that 

Two methods of culture arrest the attention, and 
both of which are practii^d near Cantoh. The first 
is the terrace cultivation, erroneously supposed to 
prevail to a much greater extent than is actually the 

From the anchoring ground at Whampoa the 
stranger sees a number of the hills terraced to the 
very top, and in the highest state of verdure, and is 
delighted to find that the accounts he has heard are 
verified by his own experience; but this mode of 
planting, he soon discovers, is limited in extent, and 
many hills, even between Whampoa and Canton, are 
left to their natural sterility. 

The low, flat, alluvial grounds are those chiefly 
cultivated, and the hilly country, where the climate 
will allow, is generally occupied by the tea plant 

The other practice in agriculture consists in em- 
banking the streams with earth, which forms a sort 


of dyke, affording protectioii to the fields, and which 
slopes at an acute angle into the water. 

Just within this dyke are planted groves of plan- 
tains and oranges and ornamental trees, which 
make the Pekiang river for miles one beautiful and 
blooming scene. The roots of the trees planted along 
the banks grow down into the soft, rich watered 
loam, and send continuous vigor into the trees. 
Nothing is more gladdening to the eye than that 
noble river foaming between its groves and garr 

The fbesh fruit, the bright oranges on its banks, 
tnay almost be had for asking, and by the barrier a 
boat-girl is often waiting ready to pour into your 
sampan a cargo of freshly gathered delicious fruit 
for a trifle of compensation. 

Agriculture is naturally held in the highest esteem 
in China, and where so much is performed by human 
labor it is thought expedient to encourage it by ex^ 

For this purpose the great emperor himself, who 
nine tenths of the time is concealed from view within 
the compass of his palaces, once a year, in spring, 
time, assembling the high officers of his court, guides 
with his own hallowed hands, a privileged plough 
over a sacred field, to show to his subjects* the honor 
due to agriculture. 

Deducing from this circumstance, it is not strange, 
in a country where life in millions of instances is one 
cotitinuous struggle, that human beings should be 
willing to perform work that in other lands is shoul- 
dered upon beasts of burthen. 

Men who are so stinted as to be supported on a 


few* cents a day, and do without roads and evea 
fences, will not be apt to quibble on degrees of 

And though life seems the merest existence among 
these people, few of them have any desire of changing, 
and probably would not care to, with a substantial 
Yankee countryman, even if he was able to smack 
his whip over a pair of fast trotters. The villages 
through which we passed seemed to be divided one 
from another by lines and boundaries, and so little 
are the Chinese accustomed to wander far from 
home, or especially to travel on expeditions uncon- 
nected with business, that it is an almost absolute 
certainty that the women we saw were confined to 
the villages for the greater part of their Uves. 

And, furthermore, the females of one village were 
so domesticated, that they never dreamed of saun- 
tering to a neighboring one, and talking scandal over 
a. cup of tea, but made themselves perfectly at home 
and stayed there. 

There was much difference in the looks of the 
women ; those accustomed to work in the fields had 
their pretty faces scorched brown, and baked very 
dark in some portions, so as to resemble the irregular 
coloring of a slice of toast. Those on the other 
hand, who stayed in the houses, were pale, and 
some were pretty, though they had gone on the other 
extreme, and lost something of their natural bloom, 
like plants kept for a length of time in the shade. 

They were all evidently fond of dress, and their 
ears were decorated with showy and not very costly 
pendants, while around their ankles appeared coa- 
spicuous bangles, which are rings of various sub- 


Stances, and which slipped over the foot at a very 
early age, in a few years are incapable of being re- 
moved, from the foot increasing in size. 

The women regarded us with peering wonder, but 
there was nothing insolent in their looks or tone of 
voice, as we found the case in some of the male 

Our path led us through a beautiful scene of ani- 
mated and varied scenery, and as I have before ob- 
served, along one of the canals that we had seen 
opening from the river. 

Several of these artificial streams were very broad, 
much more so than in our own country ; the banks 
smooth and hard, and the whole line of the canal 
planted on either side with immense and noble 

The boats on them were pushed along by means 
of the bamboo poles, which are always kept in readi- 
ness, but whenever the sails would draw they were 
hoisted, and the crew enjoyed a respite of a few 

These canals, even in this little island, went wind- 
ing about so, that merchandise from any point could 
readily be shipped on board a chop boat, and this is 
an illustration of the fact, that although railroads and 
steamboats do not exist in China, and will not for 
many a day, yet the Chinese are a civilized peo- 
ple, and understand the facilities of transportation as 
well as many other nations. 

Wherever it was necessary to cross a canal, the 
stone paths led on to a substantial bridge, so high 
above the water that the boats could pass under 
ffeely, and all parts of the bridge were cut and put 


together in the nicest manner. Alany of the bridges 
were not arched, but had immense stones placed 
from pier to pier, which served quite as well, not 
being employed for enormous weights, but the Chi- 
nese thoroughly understand the principle of the arch* 

Several luxurious mandarins, in.their sedan chairs, 
passed us, and as an evidence of their superiority to 
the common mass of people around, these officers 
contented themselves with glancing at us slightly, 
and never staring rudely, or, above all, uttering a 
word of derision. 

The sedan chair is so comfortable that one may 
travel in it all day without fatigue, and foreigners 
highly estimate the pleasure of using it. Females of 
rank or wealthy men, who have occasion to cross 
the river, enter a boat with palanquin and attendants, 
are rowed safely over, and continue their journey 
without once descending from their pleasure car* 

Several of the gates that we passed through ogened' 
to our view a different and as beautiful a prospect as 
the one we had just enjoyed, and the walls in which 
the gates were built, were used as they are often 
with us, for daubing over with all sorts of adver- 
tisements. Among these were placards of amuse- 
ments, business cards, and quack doctors' puflOs of 
panaceas, not the least noted of which were addresed 

to married ladies without children. All these were 


in large letters ; they seemed to be considered puUic 
property, guarded by the principle of universal suf- 
frage, and the hand, of a captious landlord had not 
dared to stick up his veto of ** Paste no bills here." 
We had visited more of the island than we had 


hoped to, and it being the first time I had had an 
opportunity of seeing real Chinese country, I was 
much pleased. We were three or four miles from 
Canton, and from our observation of Chinese tillage, 
we discovered that they were as perfect in agriculture 
as in other arts. 

Whatever they have really turned their attention 
to, untrammelled by the despotic will of sovereign 
power, they have proved themselves nearly perfect 

It was near the hour of sunset, and not wishing 
.to thread the intricacies of the Honam villages "^nd 
suburbs after dark without lanterns, and in the midst 
of fellows who would, according to their philosophy, 
consider it a Christian act to mislead us, we reluc- 
tantly concluded to return. 

A few vagabond boys who had formed our escort, 
and created for themselves a fund of innocent mirth 
by bawling Fanqui until they were hoarse, evidently 
began to think that they had had enough of us, and 
that it was time for us to go home. 

In the same spirit of pleasantry they gave us posi- 
tive notice to quit by throwing pebbles into the air, 
and were mightily pleased to hear them patter on 
our hats, and at length encouraged by our forbear- 
ance, the gravel descended like a shower bath, and 
we beat a retreat. 

The laborers were now returning from work, and 
seemed all at once to be highly indignant at our 
presence, and shouted Wyloe, " begone," whenever 
they met us. 

We entered a shop to ask a few questions about 
the shortest path, but the patriot could not answer a 


barbarian civilly, and intimated that he did not 
know the path, and was glad of it, and moreover, 
that he would not inform us if he did. 

The crowd thickened and became more insolent, 
and at length, going through one of the villages, a 
party shut the gates on us and we were penned 

The bolts of the gate seemed to be simple enough, 
but whatever way we would push them the inexor- 
able doors remained closed. 

At length one man, more civil than the rest, put his 
hand on the latch, and the barrier flew open. How 
he accomplished what we had -failed to, I cduld not 

We very gladly found ourselves in the fields 
again, not far from the Honam suburb. The rabble 
bawled until we were at some distance; we had 
thus a specimen of the deep rooted hostility of the 
lower Chinese to foreigners. The Canton province 
is the receptacle for all the refuse population of the 

It is the most remote from the capital, and on the 
seaboard, so that the scoundrels may hold themselves 
in readiness to leave the country if pursuit is too hot 
for them. Besides, the climate is so genial, and life 
can be supported at so little cost, that the needy of 
every class pour into Canton. 

Sometimes natives of the north of China have ex- 
pressed their astonishment at the behavior of their 
southern population, and from this we may infer 
that the rascals of Canton hardly give a fair idea of 
the aggregate of the nation. 

As we entered the Honam suburb, we found an 


attendant who belonged to the factory, and who an- 
swered to the convenient name of Si, in waiting for 
us. The tide had fallen in our absence, and the 
boat had moved to another part of the bank, the 
faithful Si had been on the lookout for more than 
an hour, and he conducted us through a dirtier laby- 
rinth than we had before traversed. 

He led thjB way through alleys with meat stalls 
principally occupied, and I should judge from the 
appearance of the luxuries offered to the palate, that 
dog and cat meat of every quality could be found. 

It is entirely eironeous to suppose that all orders 
of Chinese are omnivorous creatures ; the .upper 
classes are fastidious to a high degree, and seldom 
touch any thing common or unclean, but the poor 
feast upon a rat, and banquet superbly on a delicate 

We were glad to reach the boat, and over the river 
enjoy a little air, and quiet seat in the square before 
the factories. 

Another point of some interest to the stranger, and 
particularly the botanist, is the Fah-tee garden. 
This lies about a mile above the hongs, on the Ho« 
nam side of the river, and is in fact divided into two 
separate gardens by a little creek making out from 
the river. 

They are open all day, and foreigners are permit- 
ted to visit them at any moment. 

The gardens are owned by a number of the rich ^ 
natives of Canton, are of great extent, and filled with 
rare and beautiful plants, and at certain seasons the 
eye may be gratified with the magnificent display of 
ten thousand japonicas in bloom at one time. 


A very excellent and pretty collection of plants in 
flower may be made in Canton, by obtaining a man 
from these gardens, who brings any that you want, 
attends to them as long as they remain fresh, and 
then changes them for others, and all for a trifling 

When you visit the gardens you may bring away 
with you japonicas, and any other flowers not con- 
sidered very rare, for the mere asking, and any of 
the plants will be furnished at reasonable prices. 

If to go on shipboard, orange or japonica trees are 
in small size put into boxes filled with rich earth, 
and the top of the box is made of roof shape, and to 
open and shut at pleasure. In this lid are inserted 
the thin laminae of pearl oyster shells used in China 
so extensively in lieu of glass, in order to aflbrd light 
to the plants even when they are obliged to be closed 
in stormy weather. 

You enter the garden through a sort of lodge for 
the gardeners, and which serves also as a storehouse 
for every thing necessary connected with their voca- 
tion ; there were thousands of flower pots plain and 
ornamented, glasses for delicate young plants, and* 
for others covers pierced through with holes to allow 
the young green shoots to spring out and curl all 
over the form. There were also porcelain seats and 
chairs for gardens, though these might be bad cheap 
in the city. 

The plants were arranged in long rows on benches, 
on the ground, or planted against the brick wall, 
and every one in the vast number looked vigorous 
and healthy. 

The orange trees were loaded with golden rich* 


ness, and bore a different look from the sickly absen- 
tees in our hot-houses ; and here were the little 
cumquat oranges of blood red color, and used only 
in preserving. 

The Chinese are so fond of the queer and fantastic 
as to carry their taste even into nature, and not con- 
tented with bringing plants and flowers to the high- 
est state of perfection, they must torture them into 
singular shapes and dwarf them, as they do the feet 
of their women. 

In this manner one will often see in small pots « 
plants that, left to their natural growth, would require 
wide space, yet are in full leaf and fruit. The stems 
of orange trees, for instance, are very thick, the 
leaves abundant, the fruit sound, and the whole will 
not be more than a foot in height. 

No other people have succeeded in forcing nature 
out of its own way so completely, and it is the result 
of long study and practice, just as fruits that, in a 
wild state are unfit to eat, are rendered delicious by 

The Chinese gardeners effect this dwarfing by com* 
mencing with the plant very young, cutting off some 
shoots, und bending others, and preventing the sap 
from spreading, by fixing ligatures around the 

Thus the animus of the plant is confined to one 
small portion of it, and after a while, art overcomes 
the natural disposition of the tree, and it bears and 
thrives in its contracted state. 

The horticulturists are also very fond of training 
shrubs intolhe shape of birds, men, or animals, and 
often effect a surprising resemblance to the object 



they imitate. Their work of this kind in roots has 
been already noticed. 

The Chinese devote a great deal of attention to 
horticulture, and, as usual with them, have suc- 

They have great fondness for flowers, and display 
much taste in their manner of arranging them with 
dishes for the table in feasts. 

I have often seen baskets of beautiful shape en- 
tirely composed of natural flowers, and I am sure 
that no European gardener could equal them. Those 
in scarce full bloom are selected, and put together 
like wicker work, delighting the eye, and at the 
same time giving forth an acceptable fragrance. 

The botanist will find much to repay his curiosity 
in the Fah-tee gardens, and they ofler the best op- 
portunity to him, in a country where he cannot 
wander as he pleases. 

Very few, if any, good collections of Chinese plants 
have been made ; many thousands of specimens 
have left the country, and a small number compara- 
tively haviB crossed the ocean in safety. The length 
of the voyage, unpleasant weather, and want of pro- 
per care and room have proved great obstacles to the 
successful introduction of them into England and 

They could best be transported in some govern- 
ment vessel, where there would be plenty of air, 
room, and at the same time, good shelter ; but until 
a ship is dispatched especially, our naturalists may 
despair of having a good collection. 

We brought home in our vessel safely, two trees, 
an orange and japonica, several Baltimore florists 


obtained cuttings of them, which grew very well in 
their green-houses, and on which' they bestowed un^ 
qualified approbati€»i. 

The Fah-tee gardens, as I have observed, are 
divided by the little creek which our boat sails up so 
gaily, and which forms a snug harbor for vessels 
bound down to Canton, and suddenly met by a 
heavy head wind. 

The inclosures, especially on the side of the creek 
that strangers do not visit, (for most of them are 
quite content with seeing one side of the Chinese in 
all respects,) are shaded with lofty trees, and it is 
pleassmt to hear the windsmurmur among their lofty 
branches, after being shut up for weeks in Canton, 
with scarce a blade of grass in sight. 

These gardens are not like die private grounds of 
the rich, but are mere receptacles for plants, and in 
consequence, display none of the decoration and 
curious embellishment that attaches to Chinese land- 
scape gardening in general. There were several 
bridges and summer-houses placed amidst pools of 
water, but these frog ponds were used chiefly for 
watering the plants. 

The gardeners were evidently men who thorough* 
ly understood their vocation, and were stimulated by 
enthusiasm at the same time. They were polite and 
anxious to show us their plants, and did not with- 
hold any information we' asked for. They were dif- 
ferent from the generality of the people, who are 
very shy 'in their answers, as they imagine that 
foreigners are always trying to get the upper hand 
of them. 

In truth, men accustomed to 'spend their days in 


Studying the works of natnre are apt to bear a Datn- 
ral and simple demeanor. 

Very different from the Fah-tee are the gardens 
and villa of Pontinqua, the most consideraUe man- 
darin about Canton, and who^was connected in the 
tea business with the chatterbox Shinqna. 

It was intimated to him that we desired to Tisit 
his country residence, and he very politely offered to 
send a boat for us on the following morning at nine 
o'clock. ' 

The morning came, and with it his hong-boat, 
very beautifully fitted up with several compartments, 
and with gauze so placed that one at will could be 
completely shielded from view, and at the same time 
enjoy the prospect. 

The boat had six rowers attached to it, besides the 
man at the scull, and they were all dressed alike, 
and wore conical red hats, so we started on our 
expedition in some degree of style. In the interior 
of the boat we found a gentleman very elegantly 
dressed in fine silk and spotless grasscloth, whom we 
at first imagined to be Pontinqua himself, but found 
that he was only his linguist, who was to show us 
all due honor, and translate for us to the best of his 

We set out, and the tide was strongly adverse to 
us, and we could not, without much delay, take to 
the open river, and approach the villa by the broad 
liquid highway. We were obliged to keep closer in 
sliore, and push slowly along the vast area of 
crowded boats, and make a channel for ourselves 
that at once closed behind us as the boats came 


I had never really known before the vast number 
of floating dwellings that found position on the 
Canton river; the stream, a short distance above 
4he American garden, becomes very wide, and from 
its middle to the oity shore, were myriads of the 
boats packed as close together as eggs in a basket. 

In many of these boats we saw dogs keeping 
guard ; these creatures seem to be of mongrel breed, 
they have long hair, bushy tails, and pert pricked 
ears like a fox. 

After we had rubbed through this tier, this pit of 
the floating theatre, we rowed along through long 
streets of gaudy flower-boats of immense size, finely 
decorated, and tenanted for the most part with the 
gay Cyprians of the city. 

A perfect town seemed to be built in the water, a 
Venice in miniature; there were houses, bridges, and 
winding canals among them, and all between the 
outer edge of boats and the shore; this was the 
Shaneem quarter, and the linguist seemed to be as 
much interested as any of the party, and said that 
he had never been there before. 

We pulled close in under the fort that looks over 
this section of the river, and finally entered a long 
canal on the edge of the city. This, like all the 
others, was densely built on either side, and filled 
with human beings. There were immense store- 
houses for goods of all kinds, and some houses that 
looked as if they belonged to wealthy people. 

The children that saw us, ran to the edge of the 
canal, and I noticed that those having small feet 
were able to run wit^ ease, which induces me to 
believe that when the small shoes are put on at a 


very early age, the cramping is attended with mach 
less pain than when attempted later in life. 

In due course of time we emerged from the boats 
and crowded suburb, and the canal led into the open 

There are no tow-paths to Chinese canals, unless 
in the great ones of the north, and then men are 
employed instead of horses. The fields on either 
side were planted with rice, and the crop was being 
gathered by a muUitude of laborers, male and fe- 
male, and the prospect stretching across verdant 
meadows, was bounded on one side by hills, and on 
the other by the river. 

In a short time we passed the meadows; the 
grounds on each side were protected by a neat fence, 
and on the left hand side we saw a flight of stone 
steps towards which our boat was directed. 

This was the entrance to Pontinqua's property, 
and we were admitted to the garden through a per- 
fectly circular portal. A little lodge stood on one 
side of the gate occupied by a servant, who bowed 
obsequiously as we entered. 

A curious scene presented itself, the whole garden 
was irrigated and planted with the Nymphea Ne- 
lumbo, (sacred lotus,) which grew as pond liUes do, 
and spread their broad leaves over the surface of 
the water. 

In some seasons this plant is in bloom, and then 
the gardens look like one flower-bed, and present a 
beautiful appearance. 

The house stood in the midst of the water, and 
was approached by bridges winding about in va- 
rious directions, and guarded by balustrades as 


intricate and fantastic as the ivory carvings. There 
were bridges beginning every where, and ending 
in nothing at all ; some with covers, some without, 
some high in the air, and some almost under 
water. Every thing was queer, diflferent from any 
thing we had ever before seen, and perfectly 

We thus learned that the extraordinary represen- 
tation on porcelain and lac ware were not fictitious 
creations, but faithful realities. 

The bridge shaped like a truncated triangle on 
Chinese plates we actually saw, one large middle 
arch and two small ones. 

The garden of Pontinqua's is a real curiosity, and 
he has gone to enormous expense in decorating it. 

The house is of two stories, the lower appropriated 
to guests, has a large suite of beautiful rooms filled 
with costly furniture and objects of virtu. 

One room was used for visitors of ceremony; 
there was an enormous chair for the host, and two 
parallel lines of chairs on either side for his guests. 
The furniture was the native rosewood, richly 
carved, and the backs and seats were formed of 
elegant marbles, or the curious stained stones which 
represent animals and human figures, each one of 
which cost no inconsiderable sum. 

The rooms were separated from each other by 
lattice work of the most intricate patterns, or fine 
silk gauze, or a sort of net- work formed of the fibres 
of the bamboo, and which is verycostly. Another 
apartment on the outer side was entirely glass, and 
just opposite to this room, but across the water, at a 
distance of ten feet, was a covered stage for theatri- 


cal representations. Thus the inmates of the house 
could behold the show through the glass, and were 
protected in case of cold winds or rainy weather. 
Behind the stage were several shelves, on which 
were little clay figures, dressed appropriately, and 
representing personages and scenes in Chinese life. 

There were in and about the house several stone 
tablets, which bore witness to the friendship which 
Pontinqua had formed with illustrious persons. 
There was also an aviary filled with rare birds. 
The second story was devoted to sleeping apart- 
ments, which were all placed, as it were, in the 
middle of the house, and a gallery surrounded them, 
lighted by the outer windows. 

In this gallery were pictures, arms, several models 
of foreign ships, and an English steamboat. 

Pontinqua's portrait was conspicuous ; he was 
adorned with the peacock's feather, though his wor- 
ship was drawn without shade or back-ground. ■* 

In one part of the grounds was a paddock for deer, 
in another part an artificial hermitage, with a b^ich, 
a pair of sandals, and a staff. 

The master had pierced through a mound on his 
estate for a labyrinth, and the whole place gave 
evidence that money had been squandered on it in 
limitless profusion. 

It is said that on one occasion, his own marriage 
or his mother's birth-day, that Pontinqua entertained 
his friends at his villa for three days; in so splendid 
and costly a manner, that his expenditures amounted 
to ten thousand dollars a day. 




The opium trade bears some resemblance to the 
cotton speculations of our southern states. It is 
essentially a gambling business. Fortunes are made 
and lost in both every day, almost every hour, but 
a distinction must be made between the reckless 
hazard of the cotton business and the cool, calculat- 
ing, vsystematic iniquity of the opium trade. Men 
who engsige in selling opium, sell their own souls at 
the same time ; they are of the kith and kin of those 
who deal out rum to drunkards, and seduce away 
their last farthing. Worse than these, they regard 
the unfortunate Chinese as fair game, and are re- 
solved that, willing or not, they shall receive and 
pay — give for the alluring poison the precious pure 
sycee silver. 

Opium is prohibited by the Chinese government ; 
it is a contraband article ; such natives as are found 
amuggling it, are in short order decapitated, and the 
drug is forbidden to be cultivated by the people. 

Nevertheless, some quantity of it is grown in 
China, but the greater part of it comes from Hin- 

There are four kinds of opium, three of which are 
from India, the other is from Smyrna, and known 
as the Turkey opium. 



This is the lowest in price and the least esteemed. 

The Malwa opium belongs exclusively to sdme of 
the native governments in India, and pays a large 
annual revenue to the British government. The 
Patna and Benares opium are the kinds that are 
most usually employed in trade, and are brought to 
China in fast sailing clippers. 

The opium is collected from the seed vessel of the 
poppy ; this is cut at a certain season, and the juice 
which exudes is scraped up, and the process repeated 
as long as the plant has any liquid to spare. 

It soon dries,. and is then rolled into balls, covered 
each one with dry poppy leaves, and packed in 
mango wood boxes, containing thirty or forty balls 

In this state it is brought to China, and we may, in 
connection with the subject, refer to the opium clip- 
pers that dart about the coasts of the Celestial em- 
pire, and are as beautiful a class of vessels as ever 
skimmed the seas. 

They are built for speed, and at the same time are 
very strong to bear their heavy armament. They 
are generally brigs or fore-top-sail schooners, and 
employ double or treble the num'ber of men required 
in a licensed trader. 

As we anchored in Macao roads, we saw a heavy 
armed brig going about two knots to our one. She 
overhauled us, and went past like a flash, dropped 
her anchor, rounded to, and fired her guns. 

She had no name on her stern, and we concluded 
that she was an American government brig. In an 
instant her yards were swarming with men, and the 
sails were furled in man-of-war time and pcecisicHi. 


We soon learned that she was an opium clipper, 
carrying twenty heavy guns, and a crew to match. 

Besides the men and officers, the smuggler em-* 
ploys a " schroff " or assayer, a native whose music 
has been the jingle of dollars, and whose sight is so 
keen that he can look further into a lump of sycee 
silver than any ordinary gazer. 

The vessel makes sail with a freight of the "per- 
nicious drug," and wherever an opportunity presents 
along the line of coast, she anchors, and a trade is 
at once begun with the Chinese, who are always 
ready for the bait. 

The chests are brought up on deck, the opium 
examined, and paid for in the unalloyed metal, the 
schroff turns over every piece, and hammers into it 
with an iron spike, and having thoroughly tested 
and valued it, the bargain is made, the opium sent 
over the ship's side, and the vessel proceeds on her 
errand. If the location is a good one, and the flats 
bite fast, the clipper remains several days dodging 
about the same spot, and if the government junks 
are disposed to meddle and look too curiously into 
her affairs, the ports are thrown wide open just to 
show her spunk. 

Vessels will thus sometimes make very successful 
voyages, remaining some months on the coast, and 
returning with a valuable ballast of the best silver. 

Lintin, an island in the Canton river, below the 
Bocca Tigris, is, or rather has been, a most incorri- 
gible nest of opium smugglers ; there were there a 
set of fellows, who did not care whether they 
were detected and sent to heaven or somewhere else, 
so that they had the fun, the excitement of cheating 


their own goverainent But most of the opium 
storeships now anchor at Whampoa, and no longer 
hang stationary at Lintin. 

Several of these vessels are handsomely fitted up, 
and keep large cargoes of the drug on board. They 
are, of course, heavily armed, and clippers are 
freighted from them whenever they sail on an ex- 
ploring expedition. 

It is useless to tell an Englishman that the Chinese 
war grew out of the opium question, but that was 
the principal cause of it without doubt. There were 
many grievances, the Chinese were exacting, jealous 
and capricous to the last degree ; their policy was 
becoming more and more narrow; each year they 
were drawing a cord around the neck of the foreigner, 
that threatened to strangle him altogether. They 
were, no doubt, anxious to go back to old days, to do 
without foreign trade, and to shut tight the front 
door of their country. Had they succeeded in their 
designs, I do not believe that at this day there would 
be an European in China, excepting, perhaps, a few 
beggarly Portuguese at Macao. 

But the government prohibited opium, the people 
had a relish for it, and the English determined that 
they should buy it. 

In 1839, upwards of twenty thousand chests of 
opium, valued at ten or twelve million of dollars, 
were, through the efforts of Commissioner Ian, sent 
to the Bogue and destroyed. 

During the war, the price of the article became 
very much depressed, and afforded one of the most 
remarkable opportunities for speculation that trade 
has ever known. 


The members of one English house made, just 
after the war, from four to eight hundred thousand 
pounds sterling apiece. 

They had purchased opium in vast quantities at 
about one hundred and fifty dollars a chest. The 
average price of the drug is about five to seven hun« 
dred dollars. 

This stock they stored away, and when the sun of 
peace shone again, they sold it at an enormous ad- 
vance; they obtained sixteen hundred dollars a 

The hazard of the business is fearful ; its fiuctua- 
tions are like the rise and fall of the tides, and one 
does not lose or gain two or three cents per pound, 
as }n a great deal of other kinds of merchandise, but 
sinks a hundred dollars a chest in the wink of an 

The large speculators in the article are like so 
many vultures; they hover over the market, and 
when a chance offers, they pounce upon their prey, 
and carry off their booty. 

Suppose the market, at a medium rate, neither too 
high nor too low, one of these operators suddenly 
offers a vast quantity of opium, which at once de- 
presses its value. 

The trusty, though secret agents of the house, buy 
up all the quantity offered, and as much more as 
they can lay their hands on. 

In this way much is obtained from persons of 
small means, who are forced to sell, and when the 
supply is greatly reduced, and little can be had for 
love or money, the stock is sold in lots at a remu- 
nerating price. 




Those who have ample fands, and who watch 
the speculators carefully, can most always make 
money, or at least need not lose much. As an in- 
stance of the sudden advance and decline of this 
mercurial commodity, a dealer was asked by a na- 
tive the price of it. He was informed, and he then 
inquired if the owner could wait twenty minutes 
before he closed the bargain. 

The English are not the only people wht> deal in 
opium; the Parsees and Arab merchants are very 
fond of dabbling in it, and the model republicans, 
the universal Yankees, are by no means to be held 
blameless. Many of the fastest vessels that scour 
the coast, and prove so instrumental in filtering the 
poison through the reservoirs of the empire, sail 
under the American flag, and their owners would be 
very indignant if they were supposed to belong to 
any other nation. 

But it is time that we passed from the drug to its 
uses and effects, and from the smugglers whom it 
enriches, to the smokers whom it impoverishes and 

The color of opium is a dark opake brown when 
it is first in market, and before it is prepared for 
use. It is boiled down until it becomes about the 
consistency of current jelly, and when carried about 
the person it is put into httle horn boxes, and kept 
perfectly tight. Those who smokd it are very 
guarded and careful as far as lies in their power, not 
to let it be known, as it might subject them to dis- 
grace and punishment. 

The pipe used in smoking opium is of peculiar 
construction, differing entirely from the common 


tobacco pipes. It is formed of a straight, round piece 
of bamboo or ivory perforated through its length, till 
about two or three inches from the end, there is in- 
serted the bowl which is in itself singular. 

It is shaped like a covered cup, and has a very 
small hole in the centre of its top. The smoker, 
either to be as luxurious as possible, or knowing 
that he will not wish' to move after inhaling the 
magic fldVor of the drug, adops a recumbent posture. 
His attendant is beside him with a little box of the 
^' forbidden fruit," a lamp burning, and a needle 
about four inches long, terminating in a sharp point 
at one end, and at the other in a little flattened spa- 

The head of the debauchee is supported by a pil- 
low, he puts the pipe to his mouth, and his attendant 
takes upon the flat end of the needle a modicum of 
opium about the size of a large pin's head. This he 
places upon the orifice of the bowl, fires it with the 
lamp, pushes it in with the sharp end of the needle, 
flCnd the smoker inhales it all in one whiff, as it 
burns and changes into vapor. Old hands at the 
business retain the smoke, and let it slowly disperse 
and escape finally through the nostrils or swallow it. 
The effect is soon perceptible, but the victim takes 
six to twelve pipes, according to the length that he 
has gone in this fascinating dissipation. The small 
quantity given each time proves how powerful it is, 
and probably no one can take over twelve doses in 
succession. After each one the smoker pauses for 
some time, that the drug may have due effiect before 
another is attempted. At first produces 
nausea like tobacco, and causes vomiting. Probably 


if the pupil at this stage of affairs became disgusted, 
as he might easily, all his subsequent wretchedness 
would be avoided. But, like the devotee to tobacco, 
he may consider it manly and fashionable to perse- 
vere until he is completely enchained, and cannot, 
with all his resolutions, leave off the habit that has 
proved his utter ruin. The first opportunity that I 
had of seeing opium smoking was in a fancy shop 
near the factories. It was broad day, and'my com- 
panion, who spoke Chinese fluently, said a few words 
to the owner of the store, who changed color a little, 
and evidently objected to the proposal to smoke for 
our curiosity. He looked suspiciously at me, and as 
I afterwards learned, asked if I was a spy. Being 
assured that I was only a " Fanqui," in search of 
information, he beckoned us to come with him to an 
upper room. We ascended the stairs, and after he 
had carefully fastened the door and pulled to the 
latticed window-shutters, he called to an attendant 
in an adjoining room, who brought the seducing 
pipe, the lamp, and a little cup of the drug. He pro- 
ceeded exactly as has been detailed, lying at full 
length, &c., but he would only smoke one pipe, as 
he wished us to understand that he was quite unac- 
customed to the luxury. It did not make him sick, 
however, and he no doubt thanked us in his heart 
for the pleasure we had given him. 

But the acutal scene of unbridled dissipation that 
I witnessed at another period, in the dead of night, 
when the victims put off the mask of self-respect, I 
shall never forget, and trust never to see its parallel 
in passing along New China street, I had often no- 
ticed a shop which presented a contrast in its gloom 


and dullness to the lively bnstle of the others. Its 
occupants seemed to have little to sell, nor io care 
whether the visitor bought or not ; they maintained 
a surly demeanor, showed their goods with reluc- 
tant hands, and never urged the casual stranger to 
repeat his call. 

But the scene was changed, when in company 
with the same acquaintance, I sallied forth to see 
smoking in earnest. It was between twelve and one 
at night ; it was dark and perfectly still, not a human 
being to be seen. We approached the door, and no 
light was visible about the building, its inmates 
apparently were wrapped in the deepest slumbers. 
My friend told me to keep still, and then tapped 
gently on the door. This he repeated two or three 
times, and at length we heard a faint sound within, 
a muffled knock answering to our summons. My 
guide then spoke a word or two in a low tone in 
Chinese, and we presently heard the bolts slide, and 
the door was opened about wide enough to edge a 
piece of paper in. As soon as the fellow inside saw 
who had spoken to him we were admitted, and the 
door instantly bolted. The shop had quite a number 
of persons in it, and we were soon ushered up stairs. 
Here, as a matter of curiosity, I tried a pipe my- 
self, but from ignorance of the modus operandi, or 
some other cause, it produced no effect. We then 
stepped into the gallery of the shop adjoining, the 
two being thrown together, and looking over the 
railing saw the effects of opium. Some half dozen 
or ten men were stretched out at length in various 
stages of intoxication, their clothes were loosened 
and tumbled, the small space reeked with the fumes 


of the drug, and the scene was miserable in the 

We went down among them ; here was one just 
commencing his debauch, with face flushed with 
excitement, his eyes flashing, his tongue loose, and 
uttering rapid sentences of bravado and obscenity. 

There were others powerless, extended dead to 
appearance, deserted by their attendants, with faces 
upturned, white, ghastly, and idiotic, and with mind 
and body gone to ruin. 

By the dim light that shed a sickly gleam on the 
figures of these wretches, they looked as horrible as 
the dead of the Morgue. But it is not in the crea- 
tures in this state that opium displays its chiefest 
work, — it is in the rhapsodies of its dreamers. 

The victim inhales his allotted quantity, and his 
senses swim around him, he feels of subtle nature, 
he floats from earth as if on pinions. 

He would leave his humble station, his honest toil, 
his comfortable home ; he would be great He runs 
with ease the paths of distinction ; he distances rivals; 
wealth and power \vait upon him, the mighty take 
him by the hand. His dress is sumptuous, his fare 
costly, his home a palace, and he revels in the pleas- 
ures he has read of and believed to be fiction. 

Music sounds through his lofty halls, sages assem- 
ble to do him honor, women of the brightest beauty 
throng around him, he is no longer poor, lowly, and 
despised, but a demigod. 

The feast is spread, the sparkling cup filled to the 
brim with hot wine, and he rises to welcome one 
whom he has left far behind in the path of glory, to 
tender to him triumphant courtesy. 


And as he advances a step he reels and staggers 
wildly, and competitor, guests, minstrels, magnifi- 
cence, all fade from his vision, and the gray, cold 
reality of dawn breaks upon his heated brain, and 
he knows that all was naught, and that he is the 
same nameless creature that he has ever been. A 
cold shudder agitates his frame, weak and worthless 
be seeks the air, but finds no relief. 

He cannot turn his thoughts to his calling, he is 
unfit for exertion, his days pass in sloth and in bitter 
remorse. And when night comes in gloom, he seeks 
again the sorceress into whose power he hasi sunk, 
and whose finger mocks while it beckons him on. 




The visitor to China, who has been taught to look 
upon the Sabbath as a day of rest, will be less as- 
tonished at the bustle and life of week-day toil in 
Canton than at th6 same restless energy which is not 
quieted on Sunday. He sees no churches, he hears 
no bell, there is not the slightest appearance of the 
day remembered to be kept holy, and he very natu- 
rally begins to inquire into the religion and sacred 
customs of the people among whom he is thrown. 

To a casual observer, the Chinese are a people 
without religion, so perfectly indifferent to it that it 
never makes part of their discourse; and the only 
professors of the sacred calling he finds in Buddhist 
priests, so dirty, debased, and worthless, as to be the 
objects of scorn to the mass of the people. 

But in every house, boat, street, and garden the 
traveller, after a little observation, beholds signs of 
religious import, principally in the innumerable joss 
sticks that are forever smoking. These sticks are so 
named in honor of Joss, the common Chinese name 
for God, and have the same relation in China to the 
Deity, as the incense burned in swinging censers in 
Catholic cathedrals. 

The most ordinary joss sticks are about as large 


as maccaroni stems ; they are made of saw dust and 
a kind of gum mixed together, and run in moulds. 

Some are perfumed and colored, and their various 
sizes are suited to different tastes. They burn slowly, 
like pastiles, being ignited at one end, and continue 
lighted down to the last shred of saw dust. They 
are manufactured so cheaply, that a handful may 
be had without asking, and a heavy load for a few 
cents, yet so vast is the consumption, that millions 
upon millions of dollars are expended annually for 
their purchase. Throughout the length and breadth 
of the vast empire ; through cities and villages ; in 
enormous temples, and solitary roadside shrines ; in 
districts were the eye can reach over leagues of green 
culture, and on barren crags by the salt sea ; in the 
labyrinthine palace of the monarch, and in the hut 
of the beggar; in the tenements of the living, and 
by the tombs of the dead, appear the silent but ever- 
lasting signs of adoration. 

Every human being, in crawling infancy or de- 
crepit age, or full developed strength, does not forget 
from day to day to pay the tribute of respect ; and 
it is not confined to hours of morning or evening, 
but every moment kindles the devotional fires. 

This mode of worship is nearly all that One sees 
of the devotion of the Chinese, but they have many 
superstitions, and several forms of worship. Of these 
the two principal are Confucianism and Buddhism, 
the others are confined to small tribes of votaries, 
interesting only to the missionary or the historian, 
and not suited to treatment at length in a work of 
this character. In truth, it has not been my wish or 
intention to say aught of missionary labors ; feimply 



because they have little or no importance in my 
view of the Celestial Empire. I would not be under- 
stood as endeavoring to undervalue and deride the 
eflforts of zealous men, but I cannot believe that mis- 
sionaries in China have been at all successful. Their 
efforts at turning the tide of paganism have b^en 
like dipping a few handfuls of water from the broad 
rushing river, and however much we may wish to 
see Christianity spreading amoug the intelligent Chi- 
nese, I believe that they will never be changed in 
faith except by their own people. 

A few native apostles will do more in the good 
work than a legion of foreign missionaries. 

It is not necessary to enter into a detailed account 
of even the two religions that I have named, and for 
this reason : all that I could say about them may be 
found in books far better than mine, and the reader, 
curious in such matters, can consult the very author- 
ities that I should have been obliged to resort to in 
order to palm off as my own, descriptions of mytho- 
logical personages, superstitions, dreams, and absur- 

I learned from actual observation little or nothing 
of the Chinese religions, and it is a vain attempt to 
glean such information without thorough and exclu- 
sive devotion to the subject. Confucianism seems to 
be an easy garment ; any body can wear it, and feel 
perfectly comfortable under the burthen. You will 
not find a man in China with a long, sanctimonious 
face — he worships his God cheerfully ; he does not 
perplex himself with creeds and passages and canons 
of the church. He lights his joss sticks, and if be 
is on the river, bangs his gong joyfully at sundown. 


Even Catholicism, so well adapted for all degrees of 
latitude and longitude, is not sufficiently alluring to 
the Confucian. His creed is more convenient than 
that of St. Peter. He has no idea of penance for 
peccadilloes, and as he is frequently poor, and con- 
fined to fish and vegetables, cannot understand the 
attractions of Lent. His emperor is high priest of 
his established faith, and so he is invincible. 

And Confucius was really great. Born more than 
two thousand years ago, he grew great in religion, 
great in law, and gave to his nation faith and pre- 
cepts, which they have never forgotten. Living to 
extreme age, seeing the doctrines that he had taught, 
at times scorned, but finally espoused, temples arose 
to his memory, which now number more than two 
thousand. In the very district in which he was born, 
his descendants to this day enjoy peculiar honors 
and distinctions. And more singular than all, he, 
like a lone gigantic pyramid in the desert, stands 
forth to the world as the only native whose fame has 
so resounded through the whole earth as to be fa- 
miliar to unlettered minds. 

The religion, or rather the philosophy which was 
taught by Confucius, is the established creed of the 
empire, and stands preeminent, though all sects are 
tolerated. Buddhism, or the religion of Fo, is not 
fashionable, it is the " low church " of China. 

Its dogmas are abstruse, and at the same time 
absurd ; its votaries ignorant and superstitious, and 
the priests of the order without a ray of piety, intel- 
lect or decency. 

I do not know if the Buddhist worshippers in com- 
mon have any distinguishing marks in their apparel, 


probably not; but their faces are so stolid and 
brutish, that the good observer can easily know 
them. But the priests can be told at a glance ; they 
dress like the people in general ; but the upper gar- 
ment has wide sleeves, growing larger at the wrist, 
and their heads are shaved close, like some orders of 
European monks. 

Buddhism has "fallen from its high estate" in 
former centuries, and the officials of the sect have 
descended with it. From the pride of place they 
held in former ages, they have come to be despised, 
and consequently men of talent no longer seek the 
profession. The priests to be seen in the cities are 
only such beings as are too lazy and ignorant to suc- 
ceed at an honest calling, and they endeavor to pick 
up a miserable subsistence by preying on the credu- 
lous multitude. They resort to tricks, pretend to 
look into futurity, and write sentences and charms 
on the houses of those who will pay them a few 
cash for their trouble. They may be seen at any 
time in China street looking out for flats, circulating 
about the cat market, and gaping at street quacks 
and gamblers. And yet many of these creatures are 
attached to the great Buddhist temple across the 
river, and which is, of its kind, one of the most ex- 
traordinary in the world. 

Few persons who visit Canton miss an opportu- 
nity of seeing the mighty temple and gardens on the 
island of Honam, and directly opposite to the foreign 
factories. This establishment is one of the largest 
in the empire, second only, perhaps, to the great 

It is of very ancient date, and was richly endowed 


about a century and a half ago by a Prince of the 
Manchou Tartar dynasty. 

Eight or ten acres of ground are attached to it, 
securely walled in, and highly cultivated. 

The monastery, for so it is, was intended by its 
great benefactor to accommodate upwards of three 
hundred priests in comfort and luxury, but at the 
present time, owing to depressed circumstances, or 
some other cause, it maintains only about one hun- 
dred and seventy. These are generally a low set 
of thieves, many of them having escaped justice, and 
here they pass their time in vicious idleness, under 
the sway of an abbot, who is chosen once in three or 
four years. 

To approach the temple, we must cross the river 
in the obedient sampan, and mounting up the bank 
of Honam, turn to the left by some carpenters' shops 
in a camphorated alley, and we are at the entrance 
of the grounds of the temple. Fenced in from the 
street we observe a very wide, long parallelogram of 
ground grown with grass, planted with many enor- 
mous and beautiful trees, and ascending gently to 
the threshold of the first building. A broad walk of 
smooth, tesselated stones, which are swept very 
clean, is laid through the centre of the ground, and 
leads to the door of the great gateway. I saw in this 
inclosure a number of old gun carrriages, and other 
articles not connected with holy things, and learned 
that they had been placed there during the war, and 
had been left to rot since the cessation of hostilities. 
The courts of the temple formed a convenient place 
of deposit. 

Through the wide green court we advanced, and 



came to the first gateway. It was a temple in itself. 
It was raised a little from the ground, and two or 
three steps led into it. Like all large buildings in 
China, its ifeof resembled the curve of a tent with 
overhanging eaves, and supported by columns of 
wood painted red, with inscriptions in gaudy colors. 
This building was little used, and forms only a 
grand portal to the monastery. On the top of it, as 
was the case in all the temples, were figures of dra- 
gons and demons in hard painted plaster, placed in 
their airy positions by the superstitions of the priests, 
in order to ward off evils which hostile spirits might 
be supposed to engender. 

The dragons were sacred animals, and instru- 
mental in swallowing the " ngo-ki," impure atmos- 
phere or sulphureous breathings of his satanic 
majesty. Close to the gateway were a number of 
carpenters engaged at work, evidently not intended 
for the temple, and they looked like interlopers. 
There were one or two images in this gateway of 
large size, which were the statues of heroes cele- 
brated in Chinese history long ages since. We left 
this hall, and passed into a second of larger size ; a 
court-yard similar to the first, but smaller, led to it, 
and from the height of the roof the echoing footfalls 
Sounded with hollow reverberations. Here we be- 
held four enormous idols, each about twenty feet 
high, representing some heavenly monarch. They 
were habited in Chinese costume, and were of savage 
and terrible aspect. One of them held a serpent and 
a ball, and it was said, truly or not, that when that 
ball fell and that serpent picked it up, something 
awful would happen. What this **deed without a 


name " was I could not exactly determine, and asked 
one of the priests, who spoke a little English, but he 
never had bothered his head about the matter. He 
ate a good dinner, and humbugged a ddt^tee when- 
ever he was able, and the big snake in the giant's 
paw was as much of a mystery as the brazen ser- 
pent of the Old Testament. Through a third court 
we passed like the first and second, shaded with 
noble trees, and enriched with a temple. In this 
hall, which was of larger size than either of the 
others, we saw the priests at their devotions. The 
time of their worship corresponded to the Catholic 
vespers, being near the hour of sunset, and this was 
not the only circumstance that corresponded to the 
religion of Papal Rome. The resemblance in many 
particulars was startling, too singular to be the result 
of accident. 

Catholicism originated in Asia, and Buddhism is 
evidently the same form of faith with an infusion of 
low, Asiatic superstitions, which the Romanjeligion, 
moving westward, has seen fit to discard. 

This temple was of large size, with no interme- 
diate story between the ground floor and the roof, 
with elaborate pillars on all the four sides, and a 
walk beneath the eaves. 

Doors on every face led into the building, and 
approaching one of them we saw a crowd of 
priests about the three enormous shrines dedicated 
to Buddha, and two or three other imaginary 

The priests were dressed very much like Catholic 
clergymen, in long cassocks, and some wjth a sur- 
plice of yellow silk. Their heads were all shaved, 


and they stood ranged on each side of the altar. 
Their voices were united in a sort of chaunt, and 
they consider it of the utmost importance to repeat 
words of mystical meaning, and to which they do 
not themselves attach the slightest interpretation. 
These sentences they sing over hundreds and thou- 
sands of times, and consider them peculiarly accepta- 
ble to the Deity. The devotions of the priests occu- 
pied some considerable time, as some of the party 
ranged on either side of the altars, others prostrated 
themselves on the stone floor, and bowed their heads 
to the pavement as many as nine times in succession, 
three to each idol, "thrice to thine and thrice to 
mine, and thrice again to make up nine." This was 
the first time that I had seen the Kotow performed ; 
it is exacted by the emperor, and so humiliating, 
that no wonder English embassadors refused to sub- 
mit to it. The idols which seemed to be the subjects 
of . adoration stood in highly decorated niches, and 
while the priests went through with their mummery 
they occasionally struck consecrated gongs. 

When the services were over, we remarked on sev- 
eral points of resemblance between the Buddhist and 
Catholic ceremonies. We saw the priests burning 
incense and counting beads, and chaunting like the 
monks of Europe. They also shave theit heads, 
wear garments of much the same form, gird their 
waists with knotted cords, and are vowed to perpet- 
ual celibacy. Their prayers are muttered in an 
unknown tongue, like the Latin to the mass of igno- 
rant Romish worshippers. They also singularly 
address prayers to deities, resembling the saints of 
the church; among others, a virgin mother and 


miraculously born child^all of which close parallels 
cannot be the result of mere accident. 

The services were no doubt lengthy, but the troupe 
hurried through them with telegraphic speed, and 
as soon as they were completed we entered the tem- 
ple, and the worthy members at once crowded around 
for cigars and tobacco. In a spirit of reverence we 
took off our hats, and the jolly fellows set up a roar 
at our closely cut hair. We could obtain no infor- 
mation «ffom them- as to the shrines, images, altars, 
&c. of the temple, but they showed us some of the 
sacred books laid on holy tables, and out of which 
they chaunted. /The idols were of heavy metal, 
elaborately worked, and gave evidence of considera- 
ble skill in moulding. 

After we had examined this temple at our leisure, 
we wished to walk about the grounds and see 
the remainder of the vast establishment. It was 
suggested that the abbot had better be consulted, and 
we filed off to the left and knocked at the gate of 
his holiness' palace, which was no small abode. 
Permission was readily granted, and a priest depu- 
tized to guide us. We went through a fourth large 
court yard, with magnificent trees as in all the others, 
and traversed by the broad stone path to a fourth 
temple. • 

This was a parallelogram in shape, inclosing a 
garden carefully kept, and gay with gorgeous flow- 
ers. The upper story only was used for religious 
purposes, and the piazzas around the gardens were 
guarded by the most intricate and beautiful lattice 
work, which looked more appropriate for a Turkish 
seraglio than for a Buddhist temple. In one of the 


tipper rooms we saw a number of deities about sit 
feet high, in bronze of the finest workmanship. 
Some looked like gods of war, from their aspect and 
martial weapons, and others seemed to protect the 
peaceful arts. There were in one apartment twelve 
gods, corresponding in number, if not in spirit, to the 
apostles, and before all these figures were enormous 
vases and tripods of metal filled with earth, into 
which were run smoking joss sticks. ' From the 
window of one of these rooms, which were decorated 
with all the odd conceits of Chinese taste, a broad 
prospect was commanded of the island and its rural 
scenery. We could enjoy it the more undisturbed 
by the clamors of the mob, and not obliged to look 
out for beauties and a shower of brick at the same 

In another building of vast size was the refectory, 
an ample kitchen of these fine fellows, and the worn 
looks of the dressers gave evidence of having groaned 
under good cheer many a time. Every thing about 
the whole vast establishment betokened the power 
of its resources, and its magnitude was on a par 
with some of the old English abbeys. 

The culinary departments having been inspected, 
we next visited the live stock of the monastery ; we 
paid a visit to the sacred pigs of Buddha.* These 
animals, four or six in number, are presented by 
pious Chinamen, and are held holy according to the 
tenets of the founder of the sect. 

They are kept in a stone pen, roofed in, and as 
clean as the temples. And such hogs, they would 
have thrown a Cincinnati pork packer into ecstasies; 
they were of so portentous a girth, that they could 


neither walk, stand, or see. They could only grunt, 
and that with difficulty. 

We insisted upon the biggest of our party getting 
into the pen, and stirring the monsters with his cane. 
He could not produce the slightest effect ; they bore 
his attacks with perfect composure. At certain 
times in the day two or three of the most enthusi- 
astic of the priests are wont to enter the sacred 
abode, brush the porkers with peacocks' feathers, and 
treat them like princes. 

As we again entered one of the court-yards, we 
saw a few old priests sitting quietly under the trees 
without moving or speaking ; it is one of the hap- 
piest moods of Buddhism to be able to exist in men- 
tal quiescence, to exert not the slightest thought on 
any subject, and to suffer the mind to slumber in 
utter vacancy. 

To finish our journey over this vast monastery, 
we threaded a long succession of intricate passages 
leading into the gardens and fields attached to the 
temples, and which were in the best state of cultiva- 
tion and fertility. There were several neat little houses 
for the gardeners, and all the laborers seemed to 
have caught a good spirit from the sacred edifice, and 
behaved very decently. 

At the further end of tHe immense inclosure, was 
a stone furnace for burning the bodies of the de- 
ceased priests. This was inscribed with sacred char- 
acters, cut deep into the hard granite. The ashes of 
the dead are gathered into cinerary urns, and when 
the sacred day arrives on which the tomb is opened, 
they are deposited with all those of earlier date in 
one silent mausoleum. 




I HAVE mentioned the fact of there being no seventh 
day in China, when the worn out laborer and jaded 
scholar may ahke rest from their tasks, .but the 
transient visitor also can see no days set apart for 
amusement in a more worldly point of view. It 
would seem to the hard working American, just from 
the land where toil and the search for wealth is the 
one object from the cradle to the grave, that the spirit 
of his nation was transcended in the Celestial Empire, 
and that no such trivial desire as recreation ever en- 
tered the mind of one of its inhabitants. He sees the 
streets thronged with busy cooleys, hurrying with 
bundles and boxes of merchandise, sees the occupants 
of the shops as keen on Sundays as on other days, 
as watchful for customers at sundown as when 
the morning lights their narrow apartments, and 
he believes before ten days are over that life in 
China is one perpetual treadmill motion. There is 
not a cafe that he can lounge into to play dominoes 
and read the papers ; there is not«a gallery of paint- 
ings or a public library ; and if he stops a native in 
the street, instead of an acceptable invitation to dine 
and sail on the river, he is questioned as to how 
many shawls he wants, what ivory carvings he 


intends to take home, and how long he is going to 
stay, or rather how soon he is going to be oflf after 
making his purchases. If in despair he turns from 
the natives, and into the factories, he finds no one 
in the counting-rooms at leisure to talk to him, but 
master and clerks are all alike engaged, and im- 
mersed in mighty folios, becoming more interesting 
every day. He believes firmly that Canton is a 
workshop inscribed with "no admittance except on* 
business," and unless he wishes a clerkship, thinks 
he had better depart and be forgotton. * 

But in a while he finds out that the natives are 
not such dull boys after all, that they can laugh as 
well as chaffer, and that they enjoy themselves in 
their own way on many occasions. The stranger 
wonders at the gravity of the children ; they are all 
precocious in sobriety ; they seem to understand bar- 
gains, and look out for number one, and be aware 
of the great maxim of Franklin, business before 

The Chinese boys seem to think that they will have 
time to amuse themselves in the future, so the sooner 
they are men the better. One little boy of my ac- 
quaintance was quite remarkable for his matter-of- 
fact views ; he had a little shop in China street, and 
I never saw any one else in it. He employed him- 
self in making paper blank books, and ruling them 
very neatly for the foreign merchants. He also 
made envelopes of approved form, and frequently 
came to the hongs for orders. It was never neces- 
sary to tell him more than once, he recollected per- 
fectly, and sometimes suggested plans of improve- 
ment with the gravity of a senator. Once having 



his orders, he could not be prevailed upon to remain 
and enter into friendly conversation, and though I 
several times uttered, as I thought, very good things, 
the little boy's stoical composure was not rippled by 
a smile. 

But the stranger has little opportunity of seeing 
real Chinese life, without some expense of time and 
trouble; the factories where he lives, are in the 
suburbs far from the city proper; in the daytime 
the people are generally at work, and at night the 
streets are shut to him. 

A great deal of the amusement of the Chinese 
consists in dissipation in the midst of carefully se- 
lected circles of friends, and at times when no 
stranger could possibly be admitted. Feasts, enter- 
tainments, marriage ceremonies, gambling, and lower 
scenes of vice, occupy the native very often, and 
stated holidays and festivals at established periods, 
also claim his attention. There are also out-of-door 
amusements, such as flying kites, kicking shuttle- 
cocks, &c., in which all classes occasionally partici- 
pate, and if firing crackers, which is so common, be 
also styled a recreation, it is one that lasts all the 
year round, and not neglected by a human being in 
the empire. 

There is no moment, probably, in the round of 
the twenty-four hours, in which thousands of crack- 
ers are not exploded in some part of the country. 
As the flag of England is never furled, so with as 
much truth may be asserted, that the Chinese crack- 
ers are never silent. 

No one takes the trouble to light one at a time; a 
pack entire is always fired, and one to five hundred 


burned whenever a building is finished, as a sort of 
dedication, or when there is the least call for any 
expression of joy or content. 

They are extremely cheap ; they retail for about 
two cents a pack, and in large quantities can be had 
at some reduction. 

Foreign ships often bring home fifty or one hun- 
dren boxes as small stowage. 

Kite flying has been already spoken of; it is prac- 
tised by old and young alike, which is not singular ; 
it is a pleasant pastime with us, but when there is 
no trouble in running a long distance before the 
plaything is sufficiently elevated, to remain sus- 
pended in the blue element, the excitement is of a 
less perspiring nature. 

Shuttlecock is practised to some extent, but the 
battledoors are employed by the feet, and not by 
the arms; in other words, the Chinese keep the^ 
''bird" flying through the air by means of dexterous 
kicks. Their broad, thick, smooth shoe soles, turning 
up at the toes, present nearly as great a surface as 
the common instruments of volition, and practice 
enables the performers to dispense with them entirely. 

Gambling, I am sorry to say, occupies much of 
the time that the people devote to amusements; 
there are hundreds of modes of gaming, and sums 
are staked from a few cash up to large amounts of 
money. The boys learn gambling as soon as they 
can talk, and pursue it through life. 

But the evil, in a manner, corrects itself, so uni- 
versal is the practice that it is looked upon as a 
mere every-day business, and thus fewer perhaps are 
completely deranged and ruined by it than in other 


countries, where it is condemned from the pulpit and 
punished by the law. 

There are cards of many kinds, and games of 
chess and draught, differing from those familiar to us. 
It is no uncommon sight to see a boat-load of people, 
after their work is over, quietly sit down with well 
thumbed cards, and as they always play for some- 
thing real, though it be of little value, their excite- 
ment and anxiety is real also. Boys and idle young 
men gamble a great deal for confectionary, which 
never, to me, presented a very inviting appearance ; 
it always seemed to be of the coarsest brown sugar 
and dirty water. 

A very common way of gaming is with crickets, 
which rascally boys put into a pan and irritate 
almost to madness by teasing them with straws, and 
when they are roused up to the highest pitch of 
fury, they fall upon each other with venomous hate, 
ahd fight till one or both are killed. The kind- 
hearted youngsters, meanwhile, bet on the result like 
old hands at the business. Rats and quails are em- 
ployed by those better off in the world, for the same 
purposes, and the contest is proportionably more 

A great deal of this gaming is carried on in the 
open air, in the streets, in bye-places, and vacant lots, 
or in the boats when their occupants are at leisure; 
but the fashionable world, who stake heavier sums, 
play surrounded by the luxury of brilliant saloons, 
in their own houses, or when night comes, sally 
forth to stylish and exclusive resorts, to the Crock- 
fords and Frescatis of Canton. There, with com- 
panions of their own rank and feather, they spend 


their hours without the risk of intruding wives, or 
the dread of meeting them when they return home. 

Gaming is carried on perhaps as much within the 
domestic circle as abroad, and this is easily done 
when the females of the family have little or no in* 
fluence, as in China. Where women are slighted, 
men seldom take pains to disguise their vicious pro- 

There is much amusement found and to be found 
in Chinese visiting. Calls of ceremony are such in 
the extreme ; there is then no lively bustling manner 
in guest or host, but each strives to outdo the other 
in civility. 

There are many rules laid down in the Chinese 
code of etiquette, which the would-be fashionable 
man studies attentively, as to receiving company, 
entertaining and dismissing it, and the learner must 
practise great patience, and cultivate his memory to 
become an accomplished gentleman. 

A single misstep would be fatal to his character as 
a man of ton ; should he bow too high or too lo^, or 
shake hands once too often, he is lost; but the best rule 
seems to be, that superabundance of form and show 
is impossible. 

There are rules by which a gentleman goes to 
meet another so far from his house, and when he 
gets him into it, the great struggle begins. He must 
not sit down before his guest, and the visitor is 
equally precise, if he is a polite man, and so in every 
action it is a contest for superior breeding. 

The visiting card is huge, it is about the size of 
the '^ small bills " of particulars at a theatre, and its 
color is a glaring crimson, the hue of congratulation. 



At the season of New Year, the Chinese merchants 
send in their cards in such quantities, that they re- 
semble a shower of lava from Vesuvius, more espe- 
cially as the foreigners sweep them off their desks, 
and cover the floor with their blushing contributiona 
Every merchant sends his card to every one in every 
hong that he is acquainted with, a system of inter- 
national exchanges adopted without the suggestion of 
M. Yattemere. These love tokens are stamped with 
the name of the visitor in English, and in Chinese, 
and are followed up in due time by more substantial 
offerings of teas and sweatmeats, which are not 
swept out quite as unceremoniously. In return for 
these civilities, the Europeans make presents, such 
as they think will prove acceptable to the Chinese 
at their own new year, which comes about one 
month later than the European. 

In feasts the Chinese delight, and a great deal of 
their spare time is dedicated to the pleasures of the 

It has been elsewhere observed, that the taste of 
the upper ranks is as fastidious as that of the lower 
is omnivorous. 

The rich people expend vast sums in the produc- 
tion of rare dishes, tasted perhaps but once at an 
entertainment, and the number of eccentricities of 
genius in shape of food is quite equal to the- cata- 
logue of the Trois Freres Provinceaux in the Palais 
• Royal. 

The celebrated bird-nest soup forms a standing 
dish, and costs enormously. These nests are princi- 
pally brought from Java, are the work of a kind of 
swallow, and are obtained with difficulty. 


They consist of a glutinous substan6e, formed by 
the bird itself, and after being properly cleansed, are 
packed in boxes and sent to Canton, where they are 
often worth more than their weight in gold. They 
can be only purchased by the rich, and the small 
quantity remaining after the greater part of a ship- 
ment, is sent to Pekin for the emperor and high 
officers of government, is eagerly seized by the 
wealthy merchants and mandarins of Canton. 

The nests are boiled, and form a kind of soup 
about the consistency of gruel, and with very little 
taste. The Chinese have great faith in its medicinal 
qualities, and use it for the same purpose as they do 
ginseng, for its supposed efficacy in promoting the 
birth and vigor of children. There are also the eata- 
bles which they prize highly — the shark's fins, 
which are very delicate, and the bicho de mar, a 
species of tender sea-grass. 

The tables, in entertainments, present a very beau- 
tiful appearance; the dishes, indescribable as they 
are, look very nice, and are generally dressed with 
natural flowers, and follow each other in the most 
rapid succession. One is not obliged to complain of 
scarcity as in some of our steamboats, where you put 
your finger on a dish and it is not there ; but if the 
boy serving you should happen to say ''all gone, 
sir," (if he knew English enough,) when you ask 
for a particular dish, he can bring you another 
instantly so much like it, only so much prettier in 
appearance than the last, that you are perfectly sat- 
isfied with thechange. 

The jolly guests at feasts do not confine themselves 
to solids. They wash down the thousand and one 


productions of the kitchen with tremendous rivers of 
warm wine, which however has very little strength, 
and which is poured into the throat from silver cups 
with two handles, and when the very last drop is 
drained, the beaker is placed mouth down on the 
table, to show that all honor has been paid to the 
toast With so much hard drinking it is rather sin- 
gular that no more disappear beneath the table, but 
the wine seems to have little power of ascension, and 
goes into the head less than into the stomach. There 
are more forms and ceremonies connected with feasts 
than I have paper to spare for them ; but I think no 
enthusiast would care to go through two Chines 
dinners. The dishes, palatable as they look, have 
a very strong smack of castor oil, and you can 
scarcely find one that has not some repulsive taste. 
I was once tempted by a plate of exquisite looking 
eggs and vegetables, and oh, — that rash swallow, — 
I feel faint as I write this paragraph. 

The hong merchants frequently send to the for- 
eign factories great numbers of dishes as a compli- 
ment, and if one wishes to be still more polite, gives 
an entertainment at his own establishment To 
show his national taste, he begins with fruit and 
ends with soup, the world being turned upside 
down in China. Cheers, toasts, and sentiments 
abound as at convivial scenes in Europe, and most 
of the company go home not fuddled but water- 

While the old hong system was in full glory, and 
such choice spirits as Houqua, Minqua and Lin- 
chong were in their prime, many were the entertain- 
ments, and splendid too, which Chinese hospitality 


oflfered to the European. In Minqua's hong, just 
in the midst of the foreign factories, and at the corner 
of old China street, are some magnificent rooms that 
formerly resounded to the mirth of hundreds, but 
are now deserted, or only occupied by sordid, name- 
* less adventurers. 

There are several annual festivals, to which the 
greatest importance is attached by the people, and 
they are looked for with eagerness by old and young. 
Though not exactly a joyous ceremonial, the custom 
of visiting the tombs of ancestors is kept up from 
year to year, and as long as the Chinese continue a 
nation will, probably, never go out of fashion. It is 
in the spring that the myriads of the cities and vil* 
lages repair, to the cemeteries, sweep the, tombs, see 
that due repairs are effected, and by their universal 
good conduct testify their regard for their ancestors. 
It is a period of leisure and is an amusement, inas- 
much as a change of scene is necessarily included. 

The dragon festival is a very pretty one, and 
highly interesting. It is a sort of regatta, and is in 
honor of some famous sage who was drowned long 
ago. The boats are shaped like Indian canoes, with 
the figure of a dragon at the prow, and are otherwise 
highly ornamented and gilded. They are immensely 
long, and the rowers sit one on each bench, and use 
short sculls in propelling. They dart up and down 
the river in vast numbers, and with fearful speed, 
for the long, narrow boats, as sharp as razors, cut 
through the water like a bird in the air. The boat- 
men in the mean time shout, and the people on the 
shore beat gongs, wave flags, and fire crackers to 
inspire the rowers to redoubled exertions, and the 


sport is attended with no little danger in the midst 
of the crowded river, with the boat-crews so excited 
that they cannot avoid hazard as in their every-day 
craft. Some of the boats contain more than sixty 
rowers, and the sport sometimes continues two or 
three days. Occasionally it has been prohibited by 
the government, on account of the many accidents 
which generally happen. The boatmen dart about 
as if searching for some lost object, and this com- 
memorates the efforts to discover the old gentleman 
when he happened to tumble overboard. 

The boats would vie with our own prize-racing 
barges, and eclipse the beautiful wherries in posses- 
sion of the foreigners, who spend a great deal of their 
leisure in pulling on the river. 

We shall have occasion to speak of this amuse- 
ment in the succeeding chapter, devoted to the life of 
the foreigner in China. 

But New Year is the great season of rejoicing — 
leisure, visiting, drinking, feasting, forming good 
resolutions, and last, though not least, paying debts. 

There may have been a dull November and De- 
cember, trade may have been slack, and foreign 
arrivals infrequent ; sickness may have prevailed, or 
a son been strangled for smuggling opium, but the 
balsam for all evils lurks in the coming season, and 
old men feel young again, and small boys forget to 
look sober at the prospect of the approaching jubilee. 
The shops, narrow and dingy, as many of them are, 
look gay and lively; the traders seem to weigh more 
and -more everyday; the bundles that the cooleys 
carry become lighter; the clerks write so fast, that 
quills are exhausted in scored; and even the gloomy 


clouded skies seem less forbidding, though they do 
not permit the sun to look on the busy world. 

Men are seen hurrying to and fro, making pur- 
chases for presents, and congratulating each other ; 
tables are set in the streets, co^^red with all sorts of 
knick*knacks, and the goods in the shops are carried 
near to the door, and displayed in tempting splendor. 
Long rolls of silk that, like dreamers, have been 
wrapt up in themselves^ for months, suddenly unroll, 
and dazzle beholders with their richness. Costume 
shops bring forth all their finest dresses, glittering 
with shining embroidery as if there were no poor 
people in the world, and all were mandarins. 

The porcelain stores are crammed with brittle 
magnificence, the largest vases are polished with silk 
handkerchiefs, an^ the painting on them seems to be 
newly varnished. 

The ivory work is most abundant, and the intri- 
cate twistings of the carver's skill seem trying to 
twist themselves inside out in the ecstasy of the 
moment. All the people are abroad ; the horticul- 
turists carry superb boquets and baskets of flowers 
hither and thither; the carpenters put an extra 
polish on their furniture ; the cooks ponder over new 
creations in sauces ; the beggars leave off banging 
their gongs, for they get plenty of money without 
the nuisance ; the well to do in the world chuckle 
over acquisitions, and the needy wonder what they 
can sell to the best advantage. 

And the first of the New Year is an excellent 
season for settling bills ; would that the same good 
custom existed in this country ; it does in a certain 
measure, but one cannot compel the debtor to pay 


up, as he does in Cbino; there the poor fellow mnst 
dole forth his pittance, and no excuses or prayers 
avail him. If he does not, his goods may be seized, 
he may be considered a slippery fellow, and liave 
the police after himgpith a hue and cry, and if he 
does not look out, have his front door sold off its 
binges to diminish his liabilities. There is no benefit 
of the bankrupt laws in China, and though credit 
may be very good eleven months out of the twelve, 
when the New Year draws nigh, shopkeepers dive 
into long accounts, and look serious when the cus- 
tomer comes to lengthen his bill. 

And if he does not take the hint, he congratulates 
him slily on the coming season, and advises him 
to buy no more just now, as prices will be lower 
then. Finding that no one will trust him further, 
the luckless customer, after vainly endeavoring to 
beg, borrow, or steal, determines to pay, and if he is 
fortunate enough to escape with a whole skin, finds 
the world very easy to live in after the inexorable 
New Year is over. 

The visitor who has some time to remain, may as 
well button up his pockets, and only inquire values, 
until the great season arrives when goods come down 
twenty-five per cent, in cost, and every one is anx- 
ious to raise money. I thought before the end of the 
year that there was no variation in the Canton 
prices, and that money was never " tight." What 
the rate of discount was I cannot say, but I had the 
satisfaction of taking several friends to the shops that 
I had dealt in, and of learning that the very articles 
I had heard time and again estimated as dog cheap, 
until I really believed so, were knocked down at the 


first bid without hesitation. And the self-denying 
dealer, putting on a face as long as his accounts, 
would say, " no kin buy so cheap agin." For the 
honor of foreigners, I must say, that few in China 
are mean enough to contract ^l^bts that they do not 
mean to pay, though the bargain is always a verbal 
one, admitting of dispute. 

I once bought a pair of vases of old Ushing in 
New China street for eighteen dollars, ^and when I 
went to pay for them, the absent-minded man said 
they were only " six i teen." 

He was no doubt amply- paid even at that price, 
and he complimented me with his heart full for my 
good memory. 

All the houses, streets, public places, and boats 
are thoroughly cleaned, even the people are scrub- 
bed beyond the extent of the twelve months preced- 
ing in honor of the first day in the year. Up to the 
last hour of the last day of the old year, persons are 
seen hurrying to and fro, making purchases, and 
buying long scrolls of scarlet paper covered with 
sentences in honor of the season. These they paste 
upon their doors, or hang them up in their houses, 
and this duty being accomplished, give themselves 
up to feasting and merriment of all kinds. 

On New Year's morning, wonderful to relate, the 
shops are all closed, the streets look as if universal 
emigration had taken place, and are more complete- 
ly deserted than our own on the Sabbath. All the 
little boys are snug at home, peeping into their stock- 
ings to see what they iiave got, and do not show 
their noses till long after breakfast. 

But after a while the streets begin to swarm with 




gay persons, hurrying in sedan chairs to call upon 
their friends, and leave cards for formal acquaint- 
ances, and in places where they are well acquainted \ 
ask for the children. ' 

Then the dinners and suppers are of the best ; ' 
every one puts care completely aside, even the ser- 
vants buy new costumes, or hire second-hand to 
wait in, and the hot wine sparkles in the brimming 
silver cups. ^ And with a love of noise, the half fran- 
tic people bang the poor gongs unmercifully, and the 
louder they complain of such harsh treatment the 
more the maniacs beat them. Crackers, too, are 
fired in unnumbered millions, and saltpetre rises fifty 
per cent. ; a thousand packs are let off in succe^ion, 
and painters have a continual opportunity for copy- 
ing the smoke they cause for pictures of battle-fields, 
and farmers gather the torn shreds of paper, which, 
decomposed, aid in manuring their broad acres. 

The festivities of New Year last three days 
with deafening hubbub, and the world in China 
then sinks quietly down to its old way of doing 
things, and business is resumed for another twelve- 

^ The feast of the lanterns comes later in the spring 
than the dragon festival, but this has been already 
spoken of, and it is not an object of such enthusiatn 
as the New Year jubilee. In broad streets like those 
of a European city, it might be very splendid, but 
the lanterns can hardly show to advantage in the 
narrow, stifled streets of Canton. 

The great amusement of the people of all ranks is 
the theatre, and plays are performed at any season 
of the year, and the population flock eagerly to the 


The actors are formed into strolling companies, 
and travel all over China. They perform their parts 
admirably, and excel in pantomime. The hong 
merchants sometimes engage a company for several 
days, and throw open their hongs to the foreigners 
as well as the rabble. I accepted an invitation to 
attend one of these exhibitions, and the tea merchant 
at whose establishment the show took place, politely 
expressed his desire that all should come. 

Two or three of us went together to the hong, and 
were ushered into an apartment in the second story 
looking out on to the court yard, and furnished with 
seats ascending as they retreated, so that the hind- 
most spectators could see as well as those in front. 
These benches, with the exception of a few reserved 
seats, were densely occupied by the respectable and 
well dressed friends of the hongist. 

We were politely ushered into the first seats look- 
ing immediately on the stage opposite. As soon as 
we were comfortably seated, a boy brought to us 
very nice tea and fans, as the weather was warm. 
Below us in the open yard were the closely packed 
hundreds admitted to the exhibition without charge, 
but obliged to stand, and with the sun beating down 
on their unprotected heads. They were very or- 
derly and quiet, however, and watched every change 
of scene with intense interest. The stage was form- 
ed of bamboo poles, strongly tied together, and the 
floor was of boards resting on the horizontal reeds, 
and covered with a carpet. The ceiling was of a 
piece with the splendor of the theatre, and composed 
of rather dingy matting. There was no drop or green 
curtain, no footlights or scenery of any descriptioUi 


and the orchestra was behind the performers. There 
was a retiring room at the back of the stage, whither 
the actors resorted to change their dresses. The 
beauty of the establishment was much improved by 
a number of half naked cooleys, who had climbed 
up the bamboo poles to have a better view of the 
scene, where they clung like apes, and one or two 
more fortunate than the rest, had actually managed 
to get on top of the frame, and sat with their dusky 
legs dangling through holes in the matting. The 
performance was ludicrous, and yet very good in its 
way ; in pantomime the actors were masters, and the 
expressions of their countenances admirably suited 
to the feelings ihey meant to express. The dresses 
were truly gorgeous ; it is in costume not in scenery 
that great sums are expended, and that of actors is 
always a representation of the ancient dresses of 
China, before the Manchou Tartar conquest. 

They were of the richest silks and satins, stiff 
with gold thread and gay embroidery, and well put 

The actors screamed and bawled at the top ci 
their voices, and seemed to lash themselves into the 
most furious excitement. There was a vast deal of 
fighting, and on the least pretence, the heroes of the 
piece drew their swords and hacked at each other 
without mercy; and every moment the orchestra 
would come in with an awful crash, and nearly 
drive one frantic by the din of gongs, the squeak of 
stringed instruments, and the shrill shrieks of fifes. 
I soon became aware that I could not appreciate the 
performance; for when I laughed at the apparent 
absurdities, all the Chinese looked on with breathless 


interest, and sometimes during a part that I consid^ 
ered partbularly stupid, I would hear loud explo- 
sions of delight, and a contagions chttckle would 
animate the whole assembly. 

There were no women to be seen either as specta- 
tors or Actors, though the impersonation of feminine 
character was so admirable, and the dress so perfect^ 
I7 worn, that I came away at first under the belief 
that I had seen females acting. Delicate lookidg 
lads of seventeen or nineteen are selected to personate 
the softer sex ; and when the dress is put on, the 
false head*gear assumed, the feet squeezed into the 
smallest of shoes, and the voice mimics the high 
sbriil tones of womanhood, the disguise is complete. 

The faces of the boys are painted, as is usual 
with the firaaales in China, and the womanly way of 
moving, talkhig, and even thinking seems to be 
adopted. They make love in the most natural and 
sentimental manner, assume airs of coquetry and 
raillery with equal ease, and play the belle and the 
mother much better than nine tenths of the European 
actresses. In truth, they sometimes personate the 
wife in her several capacities, and in one instance, a 
stage lady began to pant, and groan, and give indi* 
cations of increasing her family, and when she had 
retired, a rag baby of the most natural order was 
brought in, very shortly followed by the mother, 
who had rapidly recovered from her confinement 

There is, however, no indecency ever committed. 

To the bamboo poles in front are attached boards, 
with the name of the play represented inscribed on 
them, and are changed with the drama. A play 
will frequently last two or three days ; the one I saw 



occupied nearly twelve hours, and when I returned 
in the afternoon the boards were unchanged, and the 
same old fellows that were wrapped up in the story 
I had seen all eyes and ears in the morning. 

When it is time to go to dinner the orchestra sud- 
denly ceases to emit its deafening clangor, the actors 
roll up the stage carpet, and adjourn to some eating 
house, the audience disperse till the meal is over, 
when the actors come back as violent as ever. The 
crowd will stand patiently for hours under the hot 
sun to enjoy a performance which depends more on 
the excellence of the actors than on the merits of the 

The actors vary their exhibitions by gymnastic 
exercises, some of which are very remarkable. In 
one that I saw, a number of men formed a circle 
joining hands, and on the shoulders of these stood 
another tier, and a third group of three or four per- 
sons stood on the top of the pyramid. Those beneath 
then commenced dancing, and finally went whirling 
round like a top, until they attained a fearful ve- 
locity. I expected to see some of the fellows go off 
in a tangent, but they all managed to retain their 
hold, those above jumping and kicking as they 

As there is ho scenery, of course the audience 
have to imagine it, and transport the players in their 
fancy from point to point, but the actors have a 
very cheap and ingenious method of locomotion. If 
they wish to mount on horseback, they bestride a 
chair and crack a whip, and if the hero of the piece 
desires to go to Pekin, he skips across the stage, 
claps his hands, bawls with joy, and informs the 


hearers that he has arrived. The fashionable world 
at once believe him, and go to court without presen- 
tations. There are hundreds of dramatic authors in 
China, their name is legion, and their productions 
seem to be the most popular reading of the Chinese. 
A few plays have been translated into English, but 
are hardly adapted for the European stage. 

Books are extremely cheap in China, and the 
"sing song" books, as they are called, are more 
lively and entertaining than most others. All the 
plays represented can be found in print, and a com- 
plete collection would outnumber the British drama. 

The same company do not visit a city more than 
once in three or four years, and each troupe have a 
number of performances in which they are particu- 
larly skilled. 

The only harm likely to result from theatrical ex- 
hibitions arises from the narrow and densely crowded 
streets ; if a panic ensues,' many are trampled to 
death, and a short time after I left Canton a lamen- 
table tragedy occurred. A fire took place during a 
performance, and upwards of two thousand persons 
lost their lives by the flames and by their frantic efforts 
to escape destruction. 




It has seemed to me that a book on the inhabitants 
of the Quantung province should have one chapter in 
it devoted to the foreign residents, inasmuch as they 
are so intimately connected with the native popula- 
tion, and the mode of life among them is rather 
different from that practised in their own beloved 

Suppose the visitor to have merged into the set- 
tler, the man who complained of dull times to have 
sought excitement in trade, and entered one of the 
counting rooms of the factories. Many a young 
man has gone out to China with no definite purpose 
but that of seeing a little of the world, without 
knowing how to begin, and from a mere sight-seer 
has concluded to take a hand at the game of life in 
the Celestial Empire. He finds no idle time, when he 
once begins to square accounts with himself and with 
his employers, and does not think much more of 
peeping into the manners and customs of the people. 
He finds indeed that the manners of the community 
are generally of the trading order, and for customs 
determines to cling to his own. The young man 
has but one profession to choose, that of the merchant; 
of lawyers there are fortunately none, physicians are 


already thick as locusts, and as for a minister, he 
knows no one would listen to him. He must study 
the hieroglyphics of the leger, and realize vast sums 
on paper. He js soon indoctrinated, he learns to 
measure a box of China ware, including rattans, to 
make out a linguist's report, and go down to the 
hongs on business when a ship is departing. He 
learns to judge of a bale of India cotton, or a chest 
of opium, to taste tea, and to drive sharp bargains 
with all sorts of Chinamen. * 

He has few newspapers to look into for local infor^ 
mation; a straggling copy of the Bombay Times 
comes along now and then, and he finds nothing in 
the Hong Kong Gazette except advertisements, and 
the fact that another ship has come into harbor. 

Canton, indeed, is the most stupid place in the 
East Indies ; a stranger can only be interested in the 
native population, and the foreign resident Mly in 

But hitherto the stranger has found something to 
toward him for burying himself in China for years, 
in the splendid fortunes which many have made in 
a very short time. Men who had landed with 
scarce a dollar, by enterprise, industry, and patience 
have in a few years been enabled to carry home 8uf« 
ficient to enable them to live in luxury all the rest 
6f their lives, to build palaces, and astonish their 
old friends, and to take with them vast camphor 
trunks, and cargoes of curiosities, and copper colored 
complexions; and though dull as Canton may gen- 
erally seem in point of amusement, we shall show 
that the foreigners manage to have a little recreation 
among themselves, and to enliven their leisure 


Speaking of complexions, I would wish to do away 
with the idea, that Canton is a sickly place ; I am 
convinced that there is little sickness there compared 
with its dense population, and there are few bodies 
of men more generally healthy than the foreign mer- 
chants. Those who carry home sallow countenances 
may thank themselves for them, and with the life 
that many pursue, it is strange how they survive at 
all. The limited space that foreigners have for exer- 
cise, and the deep shaded hongs that they pass their 
days under, unexposed to the sun, contribute to 
make their faces as pale as their jackets. 

To begin at the alpha of the foreign residents' 
life, we must describe the places in which they live — 
the factories. 

These are all close together, occupying perhaps a 
thousand square yards of -space, mostly fronting on 
the river, and running back several hundred feet 
Some of these dwelling-places are in lengthened nar- 
row courts, between Old and New China streets, but 
the most eligible /face the American garden, and 
boast of some architectural embellishments. There 
is usually a basement, and above it an entresol, and 
then the principal apartments. In front of the 
upper rooms in several of the hongs, is a marble 
paved verandah with green blinds, which can be 
opened or shut at pleasure. The hongs are entered 
by means of a wide passage-way running the 
whole length of the building, and are each com- 
posed of numbers of houses detached from each 
other, yet all serving their turn Uke the distinct 
glasses in a telescope. 

No attempt at Chinese style is introduced in any 


of these buildings. They consist of ccpnting-roonis, 
an establishment for the tea tasters, of dining and 
sleeping rooms, and in some are nicely furnished 
parlors. i 

The housekeeping is entirely und^r the charge of 
a compradore, and he is a Very important function- 
ary. He is paid nothing for his services, but mana- 
ges amply to pay himself. 

He has under his thumb, the cooks and the cool- 
^ys, the purveyors and the servant boys. He cannot 
make much from the foreigners directly, but manages 
in a roundabout way, and scrapes his earnings from 
his own countrymen. If a Chinaman brings any 
thing to the hong to sell, he never lets him go away 
without squeezing him, he is in fact a broker, and 
earns a fat commission for every transaction. He 
acts as the banker of the establishment, strangers 
deposit with him their specie, and check on him 
when they want money. Every time that he pays 
one a handful of dollars, he lays them flat on the 
stones, and stamps each one with his own mark, 
which is cut on the end of an iron chisel, and ham- 
mered into the Spaniard. So every dealer inflicts 
his brand on every piece that passes through his 
hands, until the silver is frittered into bits. The 
compradore must look out for honest men and 
rogues at the same time; he is responsible for all 
the moveables in the house, and is obliged to replace 
the plate of the establishment if lost. Once the 
table silver happened to be stolen from the side- 
board after dinner was over, and new glittering sub- 
stitutes were in use at tea time. The compradore 
has to bear the loss himself, and say nothing, but he 



gives an extra twist to the screw press, and forces 
the loss out of his grumbling countrymen. He pays 
it the more readily, as it would go hard with him if 
his apparent neglect of care should come to the ears 
of his government officers. Next to the compradore 
in dignity and self-importance, are the native boys 
who wait on the table, and attend to the rooms. 
Every person in the establishment, from the partners 
down to the miserable Portuguese clerks, (who seem 
real objects of pity from their forlorn situations,) has 
one of these saucy, puffed up youngsters to attend 
his pleasure. They have a horror of offending the 
compradore, who could cut them off with a wink of 
his eye, but they fear no one else. They are tolera- 
bly obedient to the person employing them, and as 
supelrcilious as possible to other people. 

At the table the "marvellous boy," just as his 
master is going to sit down, pulls out one chair, and 
is not aware of the existence of the other four-and- 
twenty, nor does he keep his eye on more than one 
plate, and a stranger close at hand without an at- 
tendant, might request him for half an hour to hand 
him the bread, and only be answered by a vacant 

The varlet thinks it no degradation to bring fresh 
water and make up your bed, but he would consider 
it humiliating in the last degree to be forced to 
sweep the room out. He is a gentleman, and has a 
cooley under him to do the dirty work ; and though 
he will go on errands, he would scorn to carry a 

Between the servant boys and the cooleys the 
usual work of a chambermaid is performed, for be it 


known that there is no such character in all Canton. 
Men, strong backed, nimble men, perform every 
oflice connected with the hongs. 

Of cooleys, the most faithful and deserving of 
them all, attached to Russell & Co.'s establishment, 
Old Qui is really entitled to a special paragraph. 
Qui, a man of sixty, virhich some call the prime of 
life, is so identified with the interests of Europeans, 
and has lived so long in the same hong, that he 
seems to be part and parcel of it. When strangers 
come or depart, he hurries with or for baggage to the 
square, counts each piece, is siire that it is right, and 
takes a fatherly interest in every portmanteau. 

If visitors come to stay a while, he makes himself 
known, and his short name is never forgotten ; he 
keeps a sharp eye on every one, and now and then 
ventures an opinion on the weather, saying, "He 
more colo to-day, sir." He wears a large slouched 
hat, and usually introduces his bare feet, surmounted 
by trouserless calves, into very roomy shoes, and 
when it rains, into wooden slippers, that clatter mu- 
sically as he moves. He has on more than one 
occasion proved his zeal in the cause of the foreign- 
ers, and once displayed considerable coolness and 
bravery during a riot. Before I reached China a 
disturbance had occurred, which rose from a very 
singular circumstance. 

A new flagstaff of immense length had been 
brought out in a United States man-of-war, and plant- 
ed in the centre of the American garden. At the end 
of this mast, the pole was affixed, which was smaller, 
of course, and could, if necessary, be lowered through 
the cross-trees. On the top of this staff, a neat vane 



had been affixed but a short time, when the wind 
happened to blow from the north, and of course the 
vane pointed its arrowy dart directly towards the 
city. The superstitious Chinese, of the lower order, 
at once conceived that evil was designed by the 
mysterious indicator, as if this airy demon was in 
the act of pointing invisible fiends to their devoted 
city, and they rose en masse. 

The Europeans decided that it would be as well 
to yield to the deep-rooted fears and terrors of the 
populace, and the upper stafi" was ordered to be low- 
ered for the purpose of removing the vancj While 
this was being performed, a rope parted, and the tall 
pole Cdime down by the run. The rabble growing 
with each instant more excited and insolent, filled the 
square, ^nd burst into a perfect storm of fury. The 
vane struck against something ^nd flew oflT, and the 
crowd made a rush for it But Old Qui, who had all 
the while been watching the proceedings intently, 
now flew among the brawlers, knocked some half 
dozen over, grabbed the cause of all the mischief, 
and waving it over his head, while shouting in 
triumph, dashed with it into the hong, leaving the 
baffled scoundrels speechless with rage. Foe this 
act he was liberally rewarded, n^ade the pet of the 
establishment, and if not '' the glass of fashion and 
tbe-lifSiild of form," was for a while at least "the 
observed* of all observers." He kept pretty close for 
some time, and did not venture into the streets until 
the afiair'had well blown over, as he might have 
found his neck in an uncomfortable collar, had he 
been recognized. 

There are several other functionaries connected 


with the hongs, among these are watchmen and 
gate-keepers. The "Charleys" go up and dowti 
the length of the hongs evefy half hour, and bang 
, monotonously on a wooden'gong to indicate that all 
is safe, and it is by no means unpleasant just at bed- 
time, to hear the friendly intimation, surrounded as 
you are by thousands of fellows outside the small 
foothold allotted to the stranger, who would cut 
your throat more readily than you would cut your 

The gate-keepers sit in grim majesty in a little 
pigeon hole, just within the entrance door, and only 
wide enough to turn round in and accommodate a 
bed. Changes of clothing being accomplished about 
once in six months, no heavy mahogany wardrobe 
or bright mirror is to be seen. The only draperies of 
the apartment are the blue gauze hangings of the 
mosquito net, the only decoration of the hard wall 
is the nail on which the custode hangs his hat. 

He keeps, like an old fashioned schoolmaster, a 
stout rattan in the corner, and which he flourishes 
with unfailing effect over the backs of vagrant boys 
who may chance to wander into the hong. 

There are also herds of cooleys and understrappers 
of all sorts connected with ^ach establishment, but 
not worthy of particular introduction. Some of the 
hongs contain a number of establishments belonging 
to difierent firms, and as no names are visible, it is 
at first a matter of some difficulty to find persons one 
may be in search of. 

The East India Company's hongs, destroyed a few 
years since by the incendiaries of Canton, were the 
finest ever built in China, and have since I left been 


replaced by others of substantiar elegance. These 
factories were separated from those where Americans 
usually reside, by the narrow and filthy Hog Lane, 
but were rendered more pleasant by a garden simi- 
lar to the square which lay between them and the 

Such are the buildings, and such the officials, 
high and low, associated with them, which come 
under the notice of foreigners, and of which I have 
endeavored to sketch an outline. 

To begin at breakfast time, or rather a little before 
it, the officious boy whom you have engaged to pay 
for boring you, thunders into your own room half an 
hour before the morning meal, and tugs at your mos- 
quito netting, and finally rouses you into a knowledge 
of the fatal fact that your hour has come. 

If he is a shrewd boy, he manages to lift a corner 
of the gauze, and permit some dozen lively and 
hungry mosquitoes to come near your face, after 
having ''all night long their amorous descant sung" 
on the outside of the curtain. Being put in a pas- 
sion by the buzzing of the perverse insects, you 
finally make a desperate effort, and present yourself 
to the world in a tumbled toga. 

As you have finished ablutions, and deposited in 
the usual spot the piece of soap, which the daring 
rats, as thick as the winged bloodsuckers, have the 
night previous carried ofi* your washstand, and have 
arranged the tie of your cravat in a sufficiently care- 
ful manner for Canton, in pops the boy again, per- 
spiring with importance. 

He says, ** Breakfast hab got laly," meaning ready; 
you ask, ''Hab sit* down," and he answers, "Hab 


catchee chow chow," (food of any kind,) or " no 
hab sit down," as may be the case. You leave your 
room to the mercy of the cooley, and descend to th^' 
first work of the day. At breakfast, the gorgeous 
youth places himself behind your chair, and certainly 
is very exclusive in his attentions. He brings you 
coffee or the most fragrant tea, delicious as the odor 
of new mown hay, and which luckless mortals 
across the water can never buy of all the Pekin Tea 
companies in the country. 

Then the bread, as white and delicate as that of 
Paris, the fresh fish, and the snowy rice he intro- 
duces to your notice. The crisped perch, victims of 
the net, he insists on calling "feasy," the ntorest 
approach that he can make to the proper name, rice 
he blunders still worse upon substituting the eigh- 
teenth letter in the alphabet for the twelfth, and trans- 
posing the article from the vegetable to the animal 
kingdom. He does not mean to be uncivil or gross, 
but his tongue cannot express every barbarian sound. 

Oysters, sometimes seen in Canton, he calls " icy," 
but schrimps are utterly beyond him. He could no 
more utter them intelligibly, than he could pronounce 
the name of a Russian ending in scowski. 

The Chinese show their imitative powers in noth- 
ing more thanjn the ease with which they ehaulate 
European dishes, and every meal could not have 
been more completely like home had it been trans- 
ported by lightning line. 

Breakfast over, the clerks move off to the count- 
ing room, shortly followed by the partners, and the 
visitor is left to the even tenor of his way, to make 
purchases in the shops, or startle the tea merchants 



at the hongs into the hope that he is going to buy, or 
wander idly among tbQ streets which I have already 
sufficiently explored. 

If he has nothing particular to do, he perhaps 
' visits the tailoring establishment of Mr. Quenchong 
Pody in New China street, and orders a dozen, never 
less at a time, of pantaloons and jackets. These 
garments are expressly intended for comfort and 
economy, for the lightest of American summer cloth- 
ing is enormous in weight, compared with these, 
and being universal in their adaptation to all forms, 
they may be sold as bran new to the next visitor. 
.They are certainly exceedingly cheap, the pahta- 
loons and jackets costing only a little over a dollar 

Or if the solitary is in a stay-at-home humor, he 
probably overhauls his wardrobe, and overhauls bis 
boy at the same time for not keeping it in bet^ter 
order. He may dive into his clothes basket, and 
make up his immense bundle for the wash, and he 
puts down the pieces in Enghsh, while the boy puts 
them down also in ragged Chinese. If the visitor has 
just arrived, he is for a while in happy ignorance of 
the fate that awaits his unfortunate clothes, nor can 
picture to himself the look of horror with which he 
will survey them after they have been immersed in 
and fished from the turbid river. They are brought 
home, looking as if they had been nearly drowned, 
and only half resuscitated by some humane society. 
The washers put a mark on each person's clothes, 
some few have the wit to place this out of sight, but 
a friend of mine received it in Chinese ink on the 
front of his waistcoat. 


The clerk's life is very different from that of the 
visitor ; he has no time to run about the shops and 
stare at curiosities, but he betakes himself to the 
counting rooms, and diminishes pens all day long. 
The immense amount of work performed in one of 
the large Canton houses is indescribable, and the 
clerks are occupied on an average of from twelve to 
fifteen hours a day. They seldom quit the desks 
before midnight, being all the time occupied in the 
various processes of receiving and dispatching car- 
goes, of making out sales and interest calculations, 
copying letters, filing away papers, and the perpetual 
round of business employments. 

This of course is during the most busy season, 
when ships are pouring in, each one requiring sev- 
eral hundred thousand dollars' worth of care. One 
of the head clerks of an American factory, to whom 
I ,was speaking of my wandering about the city, told 
me he had not been in China street, (only about fifty 
yards off,) for nine years. Absurd as such a state- 
ment may seem, it was nevertheless true, for his 
work, he being book-keeper, kept him busy from 
seven in the morning {o somewhere about the small 
hours. His labor was never varied, except by his 
meals, a hurried trot around the square, and an oc- 
casional pull on the river, and a summer trip to 
Macao. One of the pleasures of the counting-room 
is smoking; the clouds of vapor that float around 
one, put him in mind of the German merchants and 
meerschaums. Instead of fragrant Havanas, the 
Manilla cheroots are smoked in China, and there is 
as great choice in them as in the darlings of Cuba. 
They are cut square at both ends, draw freely, and 


the best have no infusion of opium, as is generally 
believed in this country. 

The second delight of the morning is the lunch 
about twelve o'clock ; some of the delicious bread, 
a few plantains, and a bottle of the capital Calcutta 
beer, form the entertainment. 

The Chines^ boy answers the call without a bell, 
and draws the cork of th^ bottle, which pops as 
clearly as Burton ale, and the generous liquor exhil- 
arates without stupifying. 

Some idea of the magnitude of the establishments 
in Canton may be formed from the fact, that shortly 
before my arrival, one house had purchased for its 
own consumption, two hundred dozen of this India 
ale, which supply was utterly exhausted in about 
three months. 

But dinner is the great event of the day, and very 
pleasant always. It is an agreeable custom in Can- 
ton for partners and clerks to have their meals to- 
gether, thus producing a confidence and a respectful 
familiarity between all parties. At dinner, especially, 
reserve seems to be thrown off, and the assemblage 
is like a large social dinner party between relatives, 
without restraint of an embarrassing nature. The 
dinner hour is three or four in the afternoon, and the 
usual number of fifteen or twenty persons is often 
enlarged without notice, by the arrival of half a dozen 
ship captains, and occasionally a stray lady. Up to 
the period of the Chinese war, foreign women were 
not allowed to go to Canton, but the restriction has 
since been removed, and a few, prompted by a curi- 
osity which can scarcely be gratified, find their 
way there. 

tMe canton CHINESE. 225 

They might as well remain at Hong Kong or 
Macao, where they would have much better oppor- 
tunities of seeing Chinese life than they possibly can 
in the great city. If they should enter a street they 
would be mobbed ; if they look out of a window, they 
attract the gaze of five hundred idlers, and their walks 
are confined to the square, into which none but the 
most respectable natives are allowed. Every thing 
they wish to purchase must be brought to them, and, 
in short, they are as uncomfortable in Canton as a 
Chinese woman would be in New York. 

The dinner ready, the boy calls us, and we see 
that he has taken pains to put on a fine garment, 
and make himself look like an exquisite. He still 
can see but one chair and one plate, and the old sea 
captain close at hand, accustomed to order the ser- 
vant with a wink, may call to him louder and 
louder, but until we compel his attendance, he does 
not hear him. 

The boy is told to "catchee" every thing, catchee 
soup, meat, fruit, &c., which means simply bring the 
article asked for ; if desired to move quickly, he is 
told to go "chop chop," he obeys, and so the dinner 
progresses. It would be like violating the sacred- 
ness of a family to detail any account of the pleas* 
ant and luxurious entertainments, the conversation 
and fun of the dinners, the sentiments proposed, 
and the bumpers drained; but one may, without 
scruple, revel in the recollection of the delicacies of 
the animal and vegetable kingdoms daily served at 
Canton. ' 

There is delicious mutton brought down from the 
mountains, like the Southdown of England in flavor 


and tenderness, and game in the greatest abundance, 
and of the finest quality. 

Teal or wild ducks of several varieties, and little 
pets, like the reed birds of the middle states, that 
can be devoured flesh and bones, are plenty as black- 
berries, and found in millions about the Bogue, fre- 
quenting the lonely islands at the mouth of the river. 
The sportsmen are almost exclusively Chinese, from 
the want of accommodation and the difficulty attend- 
ing the visit of the foreigner. Very few Europeans 
are successful ; the birds do not seem to care much 
for the double barrelled gun of barbarian manufac- 
ture, and only come down in numbers at the request 
of a native. 

You will often see a ragged hunter enter the hong 
with his enormous gun, twelve or fifteen feet long, 
over his shoulder, balanced by the bunch of birds 
that he offers to the compradore in exchange for 
chop dollars. The gun is a genuine curiosity, wor- 
thy of a place in a museum of artillery. It i? 
shaped something like a musket, but distinguished 
by its immense length and its old fashioned con- 
structed fire-lock. The birds are knocked down with 
iron shot, and the tattered sportsman places the 
breech to his side instead of his shoulder. How he 
takes aim is a mystery, but he very seldom misses. 

Towards sunset, one in the neighborhood of the 
Bogue will often see myriads of teal flying over 
and settling on the barren rocks of Tiger Island, and 
among the paddy fields of Whampoa are found, in 
their proper season, vast flocks of the rice birds. 
The captains of vessels sometimes exercise their 
ingenuity in endeavoring to procure game for their 


cabias, but if they even happen to kill the birds, 
which is not often, they are very difficult to be found 
in the tall thick grass and bogs of the muddy 

It is extremely difficult in Canton to procure toler- 
able butter ; if a lot arrives, which is a little more 
decent than the ancient article in use, it is eagerly 
seized ; so it is with milk and cream, China not being 
a grazing country. 

But in all other good things the hongs of Canton 
offer as great a variety as an epicure can desire, and 
the varieties and excellence of vegetables and fruit 
are unsurpassed. 

The potato we have already spoken of, which is 
grown near Macao, of a kind equalling the best in 
America. In fact, China combines within its broad 
territory, all the productions of a temperate as well 
as a tropical clime. 

Their fruits are brought to a high degree of perfec- 
tion by the skilful gardeners, and differ from the 
hard, ill-natured rarities grown under glass in Euro- 
pean hot-houses. 

There are several varieties of oranges ; the first in 
rank is the mandarin. This is often seen growing 
on the dwarf trees, and is of a deep color, approach* 
ing crimson on the outside. ^ 

This orange is rather small, and the thin skin peals 
completely off with ease, leaving the fruit in its 
underdress. Within it is of a blood-red hue, very 
sweet and juicy. The sections of the fruit are so 
protected, that no juice escapes. Ranks of every 
thing in China are, in a great degree, distinguished 
by the name of mandarin and cooley; there is the 


mandarin proper, and every object, animate or in- 
animate, if good, is mandarin, also ; so every thing 
common and unclean is cooley. 

The mandarin-cooley orange is the second in 
favor; this resembles the first, except being of a 
lighter color, and with a flavor perhaps not quite as 
fine. The third class is the cooley, and known 
among us as the China orange ; this is larger than 
either of the others, perfectly round, and of a bright 
yellow color. It has a close, hard skin, requiring to 
be cut with a knife, full of juice, and, to my taste, 
far superior to its more ambitious kindred. The 
fourth class is a dwarf orange called cumquat, look- 
ing like a mandarin in miniature, and only used or 
fit for preserving. The pumelo is a very fine fruit; 
it grows to near the size of a man's head, and when 
on its bush, before being plucked, has to be supported 
by a rest, the weight being likely to break down the 
tender shrub. It is shaped like a pear, and seems to 
resemble the shaddock, having a juicy pulp within, 
no more substantial than whip syllabub, and is of a 
pale, yellow hue. There is another fruit, the proper 
name of which I do not remember, but it is called 
by Europeans the Chinese gooseberry. It is a little 
larger than a hen's egg, singularly ribbed from end 
to end, and has precisely the taste of a fine ripe 
gooseberry. In the 'raging heat of Canton nothing 
so effectually quenches the thirst as the juice of this 
delicious fruit. The lichi is an excellent fruit; it 
looks on the outside like an English walnut, and be- 
neath the paper shell crushed with two fingers, and 
entirely detached from it, excepting at one end, is a 
soft pulpy substance, inclosing a stone, which looks 


much like a raisin. It has an acid sweetness, and 
the fruit can be kept a great length of time. There 
are many other fruits, the pomegranate, the magus- 
teen, not so fine, however, as that of Java, plantains 
that peel and offer a melting richness, walnuts, 
groundnuts, and chestnuts, quite as large and good 
as those of Europe. While the fruits are being dis- 
cussed, and the wine is passing around the table, a 
little tray, shaped like a dragon boat, with wire seats, 
and a lighted joss-stick lying at full length upon 
them, is placed on the board, and presently flies up 
and down the mahogany, as the gentlemen select 
their cheroots, and darken the air with rolling clouds 
of smoke. Then each one making himself as com- 
fortable as the thermometer at 95^ will permit him 
to be, indulges in a luxurious whiff, fanned all the 
while by the swinging punka. 

This is an immense fan suspended by the two 
ends to the ceiling, and kept in motion by means of 
a rope alternately pulled and slackened by a machine 
in shape of a cooley, who stands outside of the din- 
ing room, and who never thinks of stopping until he 
is told to, should the dinner continue six hours. A 
cooley is so accustomed to obey, that he seldom has 
the wit to form and carry out an idea, and should 
he leave off jerking the rope, he would be sharply 
reprimanded by the boys, and annihilated by the 

The important meal over, unless the business is 
very pressing, the partners, and clerks too, usually 
take leisure for an hour or so, and repair to the 
water. Some pass through, the square and ground 
beyond it, and betake themselves to a httle mud 



bank, which is, or was daring my visit, decorated 
with a consoo house, and styled Jackass Point. On 
the verandah are a number of seats, some composed 
of large stones set upon three legs, and forming cool 
resting places. From this point an excellent view of 
the river is obtained, and it is always a lively sight 
to see the varying craft flit by, some gay as banners, 
green paint, carving and gilding can make them, 
and others stout, sober, and business like, working 
slowly past. On the bank are groups of clerks play- 
ing leap-frog and hop-scotch, if the day is suffi- 
ciently cool, and if very hot, standing still looking 
at the vessels, and talking to the boat girls. The 
more sober partners order the hong boat, which is 
^precisely like the dollar boat already described, and 
go up the river. They sit down and look out of the 
windows until all the boats are passed, and when 
they come to the Macao passage they anchor for 
half an hour, and have a comfortable snooze. Many 
of the young men go out on the river every evening 
in their own boats, either sailing or pulling. There 
are several classes, and no one need send to England 
or America for them ; once give the Chinese builder 
his model, and he forthwith goes to work. In a 
very short time he has a beautiful boat, equal, from 
stem to stern, to the best European cutters or wher- 
ries, and so light, that he can almost take it up and 
bear it to the water. There are several builders 
close to the factories, who are employed nearly all 
the time in filling orders for the foreigners. They 
display the most admirable judgment in uniting 
strength and speed ; one . sailing vessel, built on the 
model of the Newport sail-boats, eclipsed any one 


there, and would have done honor to Narragansett 
Bay. Of cutters the American Fah-kee (nation of 
the flowery flag, as the Chinese call us,) bore away 
the bell. She was an eight-oared boat of remarka- 
ble beauty, the pet of the hongs, and had been vic- 
torious in several closely contested races. With the 
American ensign waving in the wind, she would cut 
through the water with such ease and lightness, 
that she seemed as if endowed with life, and trip- 
ping joyfully. 

The boat races always took place above the city 
in the Macao passage, from near its entrance down 
to the old fort on the little island in the middle of the 
stream. The hour chosen was just at sunset, when 
the latest hues of the day threw a glorious light upon 
the scene, and numbers of the foreigners and Chi- 
nese came to witness the contest. The umpires' boats 
were placed at proper stations, the emulous racers 
came to the tow line minus suspenders, straps, 
standing collars, and check reins of every sort, and 
arrayed in neat flannel jackets, which, however, 
they dispensed with at the last moment. 

They are ready, with mouths shut tight and backs 
bent over, a pistol is fired and oS they go, straining 
every nerve. The foreigners' friends on either side 
encourage them by loud shouts, the boat rounds the 
turning point of the race, the interest never flags, (as 
reviewers say,) the goal is reached, and one comes 
in a winner. Then the pistols go oflf in dozens, and, 
perhaps, a Chinaman on the stern of a cargo boat, 
who had forgotten his devotions for the moment, 
bangs upon his gong with tremendous force, as a 
salvo shot and a chin chin joss at the same time. 


Then the flannel jackets are put on again, and all 
set their faces towards home, the winners in excel- 
lent humor with themselves and every body else, 
and the losers as happy as they can be under the 
hard fate they suffered. But they console them- 
selves by saying, if so and so had happened, the 
result would have been the other way, and firmly 
making up their minds that they were going to gain 
the victory next time. Back they all go, and then 
comes the uncorking of beer, followed at night by a 
cosy supper, during which the unfortunates continue 
to forget their troubles, and become so exhilarated 
that they are convinced that they are as good as the 
victors at any moment. Thus with an abundance 
of wine, fun, songs, toasts, and speeches, all of 
course unrivalled, several hours pass by, during 
which time they all become such good friends, that 
they come to a unanimous determination, namely, 
to see each other home, which proves to be a matter 
of some trouble. And the next morning two or 
three of the losers, with bad headaches, (from the 
fatigues of rowing,) slink into China street to the 
smithes to buy the silver cup they were so sure of 
winning, that they had never thought of the pat- 

The boats, after coming in from the river, are 
hoisted into houses on the banks by means of pul- 
leys, and kept constantly under cover. The cutters, 
gigs, and wherries, are under the immediate charge 
of an ancient Chinaman, who has no name known 
to barbarians but that of Old Head. He is a fine 
old fellow, and it is extremely gratifying, among a 
vast population hostile to foreigners, to find some few 


who appreciate Europeans, and are thoroughly de- 
voted to them. Such a one is Old Head ; he is re- 
spected, and though he lives in a worn out boat of 
the larger size, which has been drawn upon shore, 
he seems to be perfectly comfortable and happy. He 
has two or three assistants who look upon him with 
profound veneration, and listen to his remarks as 
to the teachings of a sage. One of his underlings is 
Si, who evidently aspires to Head's place, after he 
shall have quit the scene, and he is very useful in 
procuring boats for the foreigners, and often takes it 
upon himself to accompany them in their hong 
boats, and, perched on the bow, he watches over 
them while they indulge in a nap. Si has one pecu- 
liarity, which has distinguished Julius Caesar, and 
other remarkable individuals, that of remembering 
any body and every body. He always recollects 
having seen you before, though you cannot divine 
where, and he usually appeals to Old Head, who, 
too polite to dissent from either one, nods ambigu- 

The boat race over, and the pleasure barges of the 
hongs being returned dripping from the river, as the 
day melts into evening, the parties enter the hongs 
and saunter into the dining room, where tea is 
soon served. A new kind is tried every day; the 
tea taster being master of ceremonies at this meal, 
and he gathers opinions and pronounces his sentence 
on the delicious drink. There is so little of good 
cream to be had in Canton, (I do not think there 
were more than one or two lean cows attached to 
the hongs,) that every one learns to drink tea with- 
out that mixture, which does in a great degree impair 


the delicate flavor. It is brought in hot, and spark- 
ling with its own life, and if the foreigner still clings 
to his sweet taste, he precipitates a spoonfuU of 
crushed rock candy. This makes a fine white sugar, 
of which a good deal has to be used, however, to 
produce the necessary sweetness. The cooleys are 
called into exercise to prepare this saccharine infu- 
sion. A great stone vessel is filled with the crystal- 
line mass, and two of the laborers stand over it and 
beat it alternately with heavy wooden instruments, 
like paviours pounding stones, until the whole quan- 
tity is reduced to the white powder used at the tea 

While we sit at the board, and delight in the ex- 
cellence of the tea, a further supply of cheroots, 
accompanied by the watchful dragon boat, is placed 
on the table, and the rising vapor is whirled about 
by the swinging punka. 

After tea the busy bees of the establishment go to 
their cells again and resume the honey making oper- 
ation, and the drones, or to drop a figurative style, 
the visitors amuse themselves as they best can. 
This is easily done, when the weather is tolerably 
cool, as it becomes in the last of November; but when 
the thermometer is a fraction above ninety, and 
continues so all night without a breath of air, amuse- 
ment becomes a serious task. 

The only occupation for one whose mind is not 
interested in business matters, consists in sitting 
down in an India cane chair in a verandah with all 
the blinds open. He then tries hard to slap mos- 
quitoes out of existence by means of his dripping 
handkerchief, and failing to do so, and finding the 


operation rather more heating than satisfactory, en- 
deavors to keep cool by means of his fan. I never 
can forget the awful heat of the day that I first 
passed in Canton. It was about the last of Septem- 
ber, and I was dressed in the thinnest clothing that 
I had, such as I had often worn in our hot summer 
days. I felt as if I had been thrown into the fiery 
furnace; it seemed as if we were directly over fear- 
ful flames, the air dead and only stirred by occa- 
sional blasts as red as the hot savage sun. I could 
not feel in the least degree in the humor of sight 
seeing, until I had visited the knight of the shears, 
who relieved me from my woollen fetters. The clerks 
are usually prepared with an abundance of clothing 
adapted to the season, and it is a great aid in bear- 
ing the intense heat to have the thoughts fully occu- 

But when the season becomes a little cool, the 
clerks dive to the bottom of capacious camphor 
trunks, and fish up garments of antiquated cut, and 
creased in many ways from the folds in which they 
have long lain, and they deliver these over to the 
servant boys, with instruction to have them flattened 
out and kept in good order; the boys obey slowly, 
as brushing clothes is an operation they are quite 
unaccustomed to, and considered only worthy of the 
care of a cooley. The dress of the gentlemen in 
Canton, who have been some years away from the 
annual attentions of a stylish tailor is interesting, as 
illustrating the manners and customs of a bygone 
age, and in strange contrast to the invariable cos- 
tume of the Chinese; probably only slightly differ- 
ing from that in vogue in the time of Confucius. 


As the climate changes from red hot to temperate, 
and finally to chilly, so the opportunity for enjoy- 
ment also increases, and the stranger who in August 
and September made up his mind to melt away, 
thinks by December that there may be some comfort 
left to life. He perhaps begins to brush his hat and 
make calls in the evening. In Canton and Macao 
the visitor introduces himself; few call upon him 
until he is made known ; he straggles round, and as 
soon as his name is heard and his face is seen, he 
feels like one of the flock, and visits at any time 
without ceremony. In Canton there are no ladies to 
call upon, unless a few missionaries' doleful wives 
are the objects of attraction ; but at Hong Kong and 
Macao too, are some of superior manners and re- 

In Canton, however, one does not stay in his room 
for want of female society; it is very pleasant to 
drop into neighboring hongs, where some few per- 
sons are usually disengaged, and if nothing worth 
mentioning has occurred within the narrow space 
covered by the factories, there is always ample field 
ftJr conversation when it turns on home topics. 
There are many who would prefer to return to their 
own land, and live almost in poverty rather than 
remain in China, even were they sure of heaping 
gold all their own by staying; and the thoughts of 
the absentee often turn to the far distant home of 
his youth, and which is the home of his afiections 

Should a visitor go into a clerk's room, he per- 
haps finds him enveloped in an easy dressing gown, 
and reclining in an easy chair. Some of the 


Chinese furniture seems to be exactly made for 
lazy people, and the big arm-chairs in some cases, 
have pieces of broad, smooth wood which turn on 
hinges, and can be either folded under the seat or 
stretched out at will, to accommodate the extended 

An extra chair of the same kind usually stands in 
a corner, and which is wheeled out at your entrance, 
and, being fairly introduced, you make yourself at 
home. Any manifestation of awkwardness or em- 
barrassment would be considered an unpardonable 
offence, and set the host to wondering how he could 
have displeased you. You are not long alone; in 
come one by one, half a dozen, with as much leisure 
as you have, and where the chairs and bed are fully 
occupied, the corners of the table come into play. 
The host orders tea, and if that meal has already 
been dispatched, the boy is forced to descend again, 
and not make his appearance without several bottles 
of beer under each arm. 

The ale is pronounced of the finest, far better than 
the limestone water, which is so much of a medi- 
cine that few attempt it, and I imagine that not a 
clerk in Canton ever drank half a dozen glasses of it 
in its limpid state. It looks so much more inviting, 
and tastes so much better when mingled with some- 
thing stronger, that foreigners, after the first three 
days, never punish themselves by drinking it pure. 

The party assembled, they regale themselves with 
the beer to the tune of a dozen bottles to begin with, 
and then insist on having a little music. The talents 
of the company are fully tested, and those having 
any voices are extremely popular, and are called on 


for songs, tragic, sentimental, and comic, whenever 
any one of the guests wishes to hear his favorite. 
There may be a piano, but there is surely a guitar 
or a flute, somewhat impaired by the chmate, but 
capable of giving exquisite pleasure to the company. 
The songs are usually encored with vociferous ap- 
plause, and the echoes are startled when the ravings 
of some moonstruck clerk have been set to music, 
and given to the world. A social concert in which 
all take part, unembarrassed by criticism, is thus 
performed all the evening, after which the boy, who 
never dares to go to bed until his master has been 
snoring for an hour, is called upon for a further 
dozen of the pale East India, and then the company 

There is a great eagerness for raffling and for bet- 
ting among the foreign clerks, though this propensity 
is not developed to any alarming extent. It extends 
to silver snuff-boxes, and a few chop dollars, and 
the winner of the bets receives an order on the com- 
pradore, who, in his turn, checks on the other cora- 
pradores who belong to the same hongs as the losers. 
There are many nice little entertainments, dinners 
and suppers interchanged between the foreigners, and 
these feasts only need the presence of woman to be 
perfectly enchanting. 

Often, when a captain who has kept all hands 
busy, for a day or two previous to his sailing, with 
running down to the tea hongs and measuring goods, 
when he has sent off" the last lighters from his ship's 
side, and has come up to Canton to sign his bills of 
lading and get his letter bag, has a friendly hand 
laid on his shoulder and is told to let the hong boat, 


which is to convey him to the ship, wait for a few 

He is led up into the dining room once more,* soon 
to be exchanged for a more uneasy place of feasting, 
and he finds to his gratification that the board is 
well spread with substantial fare. As a chosen few 
sit down, the boys come in bearing on high the deli- 
cate roasted teal, smoking hot, and so tender that a ' 
sharp knife goes directly through them, followed, as 
it is drawn out, by the savory juice in abundance. 
The boy brings a little jar of the wampee jelly, 
which melts into the meat, and when the captain 
has eaten a whole bird he feels exceedingly refreshed 
from the labor of signing dozens of bills of lading, 
and still further exhilarated when the champaigne 
streams foaming into his glass. Then he takes a 
reluctant leave, and those left behind turn in and 
forget him all night, and after they hear that he has 
sailed from Macao forget him also all day. 

A favorite amusement is a scamper to Whampoa. 
You bid a man good morning, and the next day fail 
to do so, and almost before you have time to ask 
where he has gone he reappears looking as if he had 
been dragged through a horsepond, with the muddy 
Water not quite dry on him. He quits the factory, 
and by the time he has reached the anchorage, feels 
so lively that he keeps the captains of the ships in a 
hubbub ; induces some to sit up all night with him, 
though he is not unwell, and after his spree returns 
to Canton completely subdued. His especial friend 
is Bob Riverman, a commander of a fast vessel, and 
a fast man who has made some rapid passages with 
little head wind, and bumped over shoals in the 


China sea, that every one else has foundered on. 
Bob is a favorite; impudence and success have 
made him popular as they have made many others; 
every thing he says, is of course inimitable, as is also 
every thing that he does. 

Once I happened to be quartered near him, and as 
I was about to go to bed I heard the wicker fasten- 
ings of a champaign basket, in which I had some 
choice madeira intended as a present to the house, 
whir asunder with a loud noise. It seemed that this 
free and easy gentleman, coming in very late, felt 
thirsty; as soon as he saw the basket, in a mo- 
ment the cork of one of the bottles was snapped off 
even with the glass, and the lower part forced down, 
and after a tumbler had been drained, the wine 
exposed to cobwebs and dust, was left upright on the 
washstand. I mentioned the circumstance next day, 
and all the thanks I got for it was the remark elicited 
from one of the clerks, "That was just Bob River- 

There is sometimes trouble in the camp, and for- 
eigners, for fear of riot, keep a sharp lookout, and 
do not go far into the back streets, as the Chinese, in 
such a time, would seize upon any little pretext 
for causing trouble, which they would otherwise 

The narrow space occupied by the factories is con- 
stantly exposed to the danger of fires, and the great 
English hongs were found in flames in a dozen 
places when once the Chinese had made up their 
minds to burn them. A narrow street, filled with 
worthless and inflammable shops, runs back of the 
boundary of the foreign factories, and the despera- 


does of the city can easily scale the wall to execute 
their nefarious purposes. The tocsin sometimes 
sounds in the dead of nfght, and at periods which 
occur at intervals, the writer may wield the pen 
in one hand, but he must grasp the pistol with 
the other. In a dense population the gates at either 
end of the square swarm in an instant with ruthless 
foes, who can only be quieted by leaden bullets or 
by being tickled in the ribs by fixed bayonets. It 
is for this reason as much as for any other, that 
ladies should not reside in Canton ; there is constant 
danger, and no strong hold to which they can retire 
in case of emergency. 

One of the saddest scenes that I remember was 
connected with the death of an American lady, who 
had lived but a short lime in Canton, and who died 
of Asiatic cholera. It was not an epidemic, and as 
she was the first foreign female who had died in the 
great city, her death produced a profoun4.5ensation. 

It was dijSicult to find a workman willing to make 
a cofiin in the European shape, and several had to 
be sought. One was only finally induced to make it 
under the threat, that he should lose the whole work 
of the foreigners if he failed to comply. 

There were not more than one or two foreign 
ladies in Canton at the time, and the funeral obse- 
quies, in a gloomy December day, were more than 
usually solemn. Without a relative, save the hus- 
band, the body was borne in procession to the fast- 
boat, which conveyed it to the Portuguese burial- 
ground in Macao, and accompanied by another, in 
which were a number of gentlemen anxious to pay a 
last tribute of respect to one who had, while living, 




irradiated the small world in which they dwelt. So 
far from the scene of youth and happiness the exile 
sunk into her grave, and nothing could have been 
more melancholy than the boisterous curiosity of the 
teeming myriads on the river, as the coflBln was car- 
ried to the boat. They had perhaps seen a funeral 
train of such a character for the first time in their 
lives, and they were not to be branded as destitute of 
feeling, when they looked upon the narrow shell of 
one who was to them but a nameless stranger. 

It had become quite a favorite excursion before I 
left, to go up the northern coast to visit several of 
the four ports open to adventure since the war. 
There had not been much done there in the way of 
business, and one or two of the ports, Amoy, for 
instance, was dreadfully unhealthy. 

But one could see a different phase of Chinese life 
from that of Canton ; there was more freedom allowed 
at the north, and the salt air was invigorating after 
long confinement in a dense city. When the wanderer 
returns to his quarters, he, of course, has a good 
deal to learn, for events which seem trivial to the 
resident acquire importance in the estimation of the 
absentee. News from America is looked for with 
intense interest ; a dull sailing vessel attracts little 
notice, because her dates cannot be much later than 
those already on hand, but when a quick sailer ar- 
rives, the hongs are all in a ferment, until her letter 
bag is opened, and disgorges its precious contents. 

A sensation was produced when daguerreotypes 
were first introduced, and an aparatus in working 
order was placed in a room over a Chinese shop, at 
the corner of New China street. Some of the stolid, 


old Chinamen were puzzled almost out of their wits, 
and induced to believe that the operator was a 
wizzard, when they first saw their own ugly mugs 
depicted without flattery, and Washing, one of the 
best of the shopmen, who had been in America many 
years previous, acknowledged that the foreigners 
knew some things that he was not quite up to. 
^ He had seen steam engines, and could therefore 
believe in railroads, but when the electric telegraph 
was descibed in glowing colors by an enthusiastic 
Fanqui, Washing looked indignant, knowing that he 
was humbugged, and thundered, ''Oh no is possi- 

A never failing amusement, or rather pilgrimage, 
for the sake of exercise, is performed daily, and con- 
sists in walking violently around the square in front 
of the factories. The inclosure is neatly laid out 
into walks and plats of grass, and great eflbrts have 
been made to induce the trees to grow, but they have 
hitherto obstinately resisted the most assiduous nurs- 
ing, and have come to a decided stand-still. 

The walks are nicely laid in chunam, a kind of 
hard, bluish plaster, which is greatly used for cover- 
ing houses, and is waterproof. In the middle of the 
square the great mast is planted, with the American 
flag flying from its top. When this tall stick was 
being properly adjusted, one of the foreigners, who 
has taken the square under his special protection, was 
very anxious to have it exactly in the centre of the 
garden, and exactly upright. He would take sight 
in several directions at the bounds of the inclosure, 
and the natives thought he was performing homage, 
and asked, " What for Mr. chin chin (worship) 


the flagstaff?" Around this square about sunset, 
or before breakfast, if they are adventurous enough 
to sally forth, the porters and clerks walk violently, in 
squads of half a dozen, and when some of them be- 
come fatigued they sit down on the stone seats, and 
look at the others as they continue to revolve. 

The English and Americans are not the only rep- 
resentatives of foreign nations to be seen in that 
little oasis. There are Turks, Arabs, Jews and 
Parsees. The Arabs and Jews are from ports in the 
Red Sea, or on other parts of the Arabian coast, and 
the latter race certainly bear favorable comparison 
with the unwashed Israelites that haunt frightful 
dens in European cities and deal in ancient gar- 
ments. Some of these original Hebrews were the 
finest looking men I ever saw, with their large eyes 
and black beard, and clean flowing oriental dresses. 
One old man, a Bombay Moslem, would have made 
a noble subject for the artist who desired to paint his 
holy prophet. He was very tall, including his tur- 
ban nearly seven feet in height, and of correspond- 
ing breadth. His limbs, unfettered by his robes, 
gave full play to his majestic stature, and his cos- 
tume of spotless white was relieved by a cashmere 
shawl wound and worn around his waist. Another 
of smaller size was wreathed into his turban, and 
his whole appearance was rendered more dignified 
by the big fiery orbs that flashed under his forehead, 
and by the immense snowy beard, that had grown 
with his growth and strengthened with his strength, 
until it descended almost to his cummer band. 

But the Parsees are the most remarkable of any 
of the races to be seen in Canton. They are as sin- 


gular as the Chinese themselves, and as exclusive. 
Lineal descendants of the ancient Persians who suc- 
cumbed to the Greeks at Marathon, and descendants 
of the old fire worshippers, the most rational of all 
idolaters, they have brought down to the present 
time their faith, manners, customs, and probably 
their appearance. They worship the sun, not as an 
object of adoration, but as the representative of a 

Driven finally out of Persia by the persecutions 
of the Mahometans, they have mostly settled in 
India, and are not a numerous people. They have 
made Bombay their especial residence, and carry on 
a great deal of intercourse with China and other 
parts of the East, and are acknowledged to be the 
most accomplished merchants in Asia. They pre- 
serve little of the romance that the fascinating poetry 
of Moore has clothed them with ; and in this matter- 
of-fact age, the people who swarmed in myriads at 
the nod of Xerxes, who fought almost to annihila- 
tion for the faith of Zoroaster, and who sparkled in 
the splendor of the Arabian tales, have sunk into 
traders, opulent but prosaic ; and the minds that pon- 
dered on the mysterious subtleties of a beautiful but 
erroneous faith are now content to speculate on the 
merits of a bale of Bombay cotton, or a chest of 
Patna opium. 

The Parsees display the same jealousy in regard 
to their women as all other orientals, and bring none 
of their own race with them to China. But they 
have no idea of devoting themselves to business so 
keenly as they do without some amusement. They 
give feasts and drink wine, and cheer vociferously, 



and are a jolly set. Their dress is peculiar, in sum- 
mer a-white robe fitting closely to the back and arms, 
with wide pantaloons of the same, or of red or blue. 
In the cold season they have dark colored coats cut 
in the same fashion, and edged with red cord. Their 
hair is shaved in part, leaving it growing at the tem- 
ples, and all wear the most enormous moustaches, 
which may often be seen as one walks behind them. 
Every thing connected with their domestic life is 
performed by servants of their own faith. Many of 
them speak English well, and all are very courteous 
in their manners. 

'* ^ ^ ^ * 

Such are some of the scenes in the life of the 
European in China. His dwelling place is not a 
paradise, but he seems to become accustomed to it. 
Whether he succeeds in making a fortune or not, he 
returns home quite satisfied with what he has seen 
of the Celestial Empire, and seldom desires to return 
to it after passing to the westward of the Cape of 
Good Hope. 




IIavlxg seen the lions of Canton pretty thoroughly, 
it behooved to visit the new British settlement at 
Hong Kong. 

As soon as an Anglo-Saxon king dies, he goes 
entirely out of fashion. William the Fourth was 
decidedly at a discount not only with English trades- 
men, but with English capitalists and lot holders. 
The same spirit that prompts the names of the Vic- 
toria gaiters, and the Albert cravats, induced the 
John Bulls in China to call the new town in Hong 
Kong after her gracious majesty. 

The preparations that we made were somewhat of 
the old Scripture order; we literally obeyed the man- 
date, ** Take up thy bed and walk," for we transfer- 
red our mattrasses, pillows, &c. to the boat which 
was to convey us nearly a hundred miles. We also 
engaged a boy to cook for us, and were furnished by 
the compradore with a sufficiency of provisions td^-s, 
last three hungry men for a day or two. 

We paid for the use of the boat and provender 
fifteen dollars, and the price would not have been 
increased had our party been doubled. Though not 
a very extravagant charge, yet it was much more 
than natives would have paid under similar circum- 


stances, and served to illustrate how much more is 
expected from foreigners. 

The fast-boat, for so it is called, is of all others 
in China the most inaptly named, for unless the 
wind blows strong and steady it is a very unwieldy 
craft. It is of various sizes, from forty to ninety 
tons, and capable of accommodating a great many 
people. It has a large house built on the deck, and 
can be thrown open in front, and is well lighted by 
windows on either side. 

Behind the main room are usually two small 
apartments, divided by a narrow passage opening 
on to the stern of the boat. These little cabins may 
be used as sleeping rooms, but are generally devoted 
to the especial accommodation of the ubiquitous boy, 
and the good things he has with him. 

The crew number sometimes as many as twenty 
men, and they manage to settle down in the stern of 
the boat in a marvellous manner ; they must sleep 
six in a berth. Superfluous clothing they have none, 
no patent portmanteaus are to be stowed away, but 
in the mornings bright and early they may be seen 
beautifying ; washing their faces, scraping their 
tongues, and even brushing their teeth in a very 
civilized manner. The pilot is an old fellow of 
sixty; he wears a Rembrandt-like hat, and along 
beard ; he stands by the rudder, and manages the 
tiller by a rope passed twice around it and knotted 
into a ring to windward. 

In the bow of the boat is a tank for water, and 
the floor of the cabin is movable for the accommoda- 
tion of luggage. The boat is propelled by two enor- 
mous mat sails, and when the wind does blow hard 


they almost lift her out of water and urge her on 
with furious speed. 

We dropped down below the city, saw that our 
baggage was all safe, examined the boy with awful 
gravity as to the supplies of fowls and the baskets 
of ale, and stopped a few moments, at our ship at 
Whampoa for a supply of arms. 

Our instruments of war were two or three old 
muskets, stamped " Tower," and seemed as if they 
belonged to the reign of George the Second. They 
looked of very doubtful veracity, and as we had no 
occasion to use them in earnest, concluded it was 
wise not to fire them for pastime. 

My companions were two Austrian gentlemen, 
who had visited the country for the purpose of gath- 
ering information of importance relating to commer- 
cial intercourse with the Chinese and other nations. 
They had come through Egypt, Nubia, Abyssinia, 
and the Red Sea to India, and finally to Canton. 
Their researches were intended for the benefit of a 
company in Prussia, and they had undergone tre- 
mendous hardship in Africa. 

We had left Canton about two o'clock, and all the 
remainder of the day the wind was light, and we 
glided along gently, enjoying the prospect; but as 
night approached the breeze died away, and we did 
not reach the Bogue until near midnight. 

There were two American men-of-war at anchor 
there, and we wished to go on board one of them in 
the morning, having friends among her officers. 

The crew, always glad of an excuse for anchor- 
ing, made the fast boat snug and themselves comfort- 
able* Though the month was November, it was 



intensely warm, and the fellows tumbled flat on the 
deck, like dying actors, and covering neither head 
nor feet went to sleep in a second. 

The wonderful boy seemed to be of a literary turn, 
he betook himself to one of the small cuddys, and 
pored over a sing-song book, the work of some fa- 
vorite dramatic poet. 

We had another servant on board attached to one 
of the Austrians ; he was a half breed, a bastard 
Portuguese-Hindoo, the most miserable creature that 
I ever saw. His head was covered with an immense 
growth of long matted hair, so that he never wore a 
cap in any season. He had a horror of river pirates, 
insisted on arousing us several times with reports 
of the most gloomy nature, although there were two 
frigates within biscuit pitching distance, and was 
only persuaded finally to desist on receiving a sound 
kicking for his officious zeal. 

Next morning early the wind was blowing strong, 
so we determined merely to send our cards on board 
the men-of-war, and make sail with all due speed. 
The tide was also running strong towards the sea, 
and the opportunities were too good to be neglected. 
A little way on our course we came up with two 
fishing boats at anchor. 

These piscatorial votaries have an ingenious 
method of wheedling the finny race. 

They anchor, and the fishermen cast a small seine 
so that the tide shall carry it at some distance from 
the boats. The net is open in one part, and the fish 
swimming out wiih the tide, rush into danger with- 
out knowing how to get out of it. Every now and 
then the men, their wives, and the youngsters all lay 


hold of the ropes, and pull the panting flounders into 
the hoat. 

They have also a net fastened at the four corners 
to pieces of hamboo, and these are attached to a pole 
turning on a fulcrum. Weights are fastened to the 
net, and a boy is kept at the diversion of letting it 
down into the river and suddenly pulling it up to see 
if there are any fish in it. The fishing cormorants 
so often spoken of in connection with China, I saw 
nothing of, and do not think they are employed near 

The wind blew, the vessel leaned over, we drove 
through the water, and we began to feel very hun- 

We called to the boy whom we had observed 

fussing about for half an hour ; he put a frame on 
the table, and in a short time had ready a wonderful 
breakfast. Where did he manage to cook all those 
nice things? the meat, rice, potatoes smoking hot, 
with the vessel pitching like a pea upon a pipe stem. 
And to simmer that delicious tea without cracking 
the pot, and without the sign of a kitchen ! Such a 
capital breakfast! Sancho himself could not have 
made a more hearty meal. 

The worthy crew meanwhile huddled together on 
the deck, and shovelled in their allotment of rice. 
Their tea was of a coa^rse grain, but they sucked it 
down in full unsugared strength, and smacked their 
lips in ecstasy. 

They were very reluctant to rise at length, more 
so when the wind became very light and bafliing. 

The gubernator ordered the sails to be furled, and 
we thus had the pleasant anticipation of paddling, 


(some part of the time against the tide,) all the way 
to Hong Kong. 

Our speed could not have been much over three 
miles an hour. The big sweeps were thrown out, 
and the crew seemed to think they did their duty, 
by merely dipping them into the water, and not 
working with tremendous effect like the galley slaves 
of old. We kept up this sort of snail speed all day, 
and had nothing to vary the monotony of the motion, 
but sitting upon the deck house looking at the pros- 
pect, which was faj from being tame, and niaking 
little sketches of bits of the scenery. 

Sometimes we passed close in along shore, and 
even in the barren crags and promontories saw vil- 
lages swarming with people, and their boats lay at 
anchor in every sheltered nook. At times we went 
through narrow passages just wide enough for the 
boat, with high cliffs rising abruptly out of the 
water, and could hear the noise of the dipping oars 
echo among the rocks. After a dinner more extraor- 
dinary, if possible, than the morning meal, we read 
until night fall, and then anchored again not far from 
Hong Kong. Before the first hint of dawn our crew 
were up, and it being still calm, resumed their oars, 
and after an hour's paddling, emerging from a nar- 
row passage, we suddenly beheld the crags on either 
side stretch into deeper gloom, and disappear in total 

We were on the lip of Hong Kong harbor, but 

could behold nothing. Under us was the tossing 
surge, above us the starry heavens, and we floated 
on, as it seemed, into a universe of blackness. 

The veil of night gradually lifted from the waters, 


and so, without accident, we were in sight of the 

The apprehensions of pirates were not altogether 
unfounded ; there are a savage set of villains cruis- 
ing about the mouth of the river, who will plunder, 
if not murder, any one at the first opportunity. 
They often go in fast boats with their crews con- 
cealed, run alongside of unwary craft, and board 
them in a moment. 

We saw no pirates, though during the second an- 
choring we were prepared for them, and slept with 
one eye open. 

Our nervous Hindoo who had waked us up the 
night before, when there was not the slightest danger, 
took occasion to snore comfortably when we might 
reasonably expect visitors. The crew went to sleep 
as usual, and the next morning assured us with sig- 
nificant shakes of the head, that they were perfectly 
prepared for any intruders, and had been on the look- 
out, and that they would have stood by us most 
unflinchingly, in case of need. We, of course, be- 
lieved them, as every man is supposed to speak 
truth until he is detected in a lie. 

As we had moved about half way across the har- 
bor we saw a long dark object looming up, and which 
presently assumed the shape of an English steamer. 
It was a government vessel, drawing only a few feet 
of water, and very serviceable for river navigation. 
With two little masts and a red smoke-pipe, she 
literally "astonished the natives," whenever she 
steamed up the Pekiang, and looked more familiar 
in her ugliness and her John BuUism than any object 
we had seen for a long time. 



The view of Hong Kong from the haibor is cer- 
tainly imposing. Several little islands lay their heads 
together at just $uch distances, that a beautiful bay, 
sheltered in all winds, lies between them. From the 
centre of it the land seems heaped aroui^i ia upstart- 
ing hills and barren rocks, and the entrance and exit 
can neither be perceived. 

On one side of this bay is built the town of Tic** 
toria. The hill on which it is placed is of enormous 
height and very steep, so that the bank was dug into 
for hundreds of yards to form streets, and to rear 
houses upon. There is but one street properly fit 
for horses and carriages, and it stretches for several 
miles along the bend of the island. There is just 
sufficient room for building between this road and 
the water, and those dwellings which are placed 
further inland, have to be perched on, terraces more 
artfully contrived than those of the Chinese gardens. 
The mighty mound back of the town rose into one 
or two sharp peaks of barren soil, on which neither 
tree nor shrub, nor grass can be grown, but which 
supply the inhabitants with abundance of cold water, 
when the heavy rains pour down a deluge. The 
line of road along the compass of the town, was dot- 
ted with houses, magazines, batteries, and godowns, 
and though the time was short since. Hong Kong 
became a British possession, the town bore evidence 
of the enduring spirit of the Englishmen. When the 
sovereigns of Spain resolved to drive the Moors 
utterly from their soil, they reared a substantial 
dwelling-place before the gates of Grenada. So the 
Englishman quits not his hold of China, and along 
the edge of a bay capable of harboring a fleet of bis 


armed ships^ builds a city to stand the test of time, 
and which may last for centuries. 

The buildings are almost all of substantial stone 
or brick, and considerable taste has been displayed 
in the architecture and internal arrangement of the 
dwellings. But we are getting on most too fast, and 
must not describe Hong Kong before we arrive there. 
As we neared the town it became light, and we 
skirted along the hill, looking out for a convenient 
place to land. The crew became remarkably indus- 
trious, and all took hold of the oars, and were so 
very much occupied, that they did not look out for 
breakers ahead, and bumped us high and dry on a 
rock with stunning force, just as we were creeping 
in shore. The fast boat's bottom grazed the rock, 
and her bow went high in the air, and so disturbed 
the equilibrium of the pirate haunted Hindoo, that 
fae vanished head foremost into the water tank in 
the bow, and received a washing that he never 
would have volunteered to undergo. 

We could not get ashore, and as it was very early, 
let the crew employ themselves in running out a 
kedge and tugging at it, until we went souse into 
deep water. This operation occupied near an hour, 
and we philosophically ordered breakfast. To our 
dismay we learned that every thing was gone, noth- 
ing could be shown but some crockery, and a cork- 
screw. The boy who had catered for us was as hungry 
as we were, and when we finally pushed up to the 
stone steps of a pier, he immediately volunteered to 
lead us to the hotel. One of the Austrian gentle- 
men, armed with his letters of introduction, stepped 
■ashore, found out the '^ Astor House " of Hong Kong, 


reported that its boarders in large proportion were 
cockroaches, drew one of his letters, brought down 
his man, and then sent to us to quarter on the same 

The boy who professed absolute knowledge of 
Hong Kong, undertook to guide us remaining two, 
while the damp Hindoo brought up the rear. The 
boy did admirably, only he led us to the wrong end 
of the town first, and the tramp without breakfast, 
and with the thermometer at 90°, was thoroughly in- 
vigorating. As we went along we saw pasted on the 
fences genuine English handbills, and delighted our- 
selves, while the boy was looking around for the right 
house, with reading them. Among others were 
placards of the Haymarket, Drury Lane, and Her 
Majesty's theatre. 

After five hundred inquiries, the meandering youth 
found the house, and we were glad to take shelter 
from the burning sun in the hospitable mansion of 

Capt. . We were soon enjoying a capital 

meal, attended by several Malay servants, who are 
more docile and plastic than Chinese. 

The furniture was European ; there were several 
English prints on the wall, and, what was still more 
like home, we found a Yankee clerk in the office, 
one of the sharpest of the sharp, with a nasal twang 
like a violin string near the bridge, and who bad 
" come to Chiny all the way from Barnstable." 

We soon found the cause of what had arrested our 
attention in the street, viz. the number of idlers who 
were congregated there, and the general dullness of 
the town. We learned that a rebellion had taken 
place among the Chinese. Their new masters, carry- 


ing out the soundest principles of government, had 
attempted to impose a tax upon them in the kindness 
of their hearts, and the ungrateful fellows had actu- 
ally kicked at it. They refused, with the most 
heathenish audacity, to go on with their work, and 
had abandoned the unfinished buildings. The John 
Bulls called a town meeting, and, to say the truth, 
the English residents took the side of the Chinese 
against their own government, and petitioned the 
viceroy. His excellency refused to receive any com- 
munication not couched in respectful language, stop- 
ped the military band from playing in the evenings, 
and the residents gave in. One of the Chinese had 
struck or stuck an officer, and a party of five or six 
had prevented the bakers from delivering bread at 
the doors of the Europeans. The rebellion was quel- 
led in a day or two, the tax was reconsidered but 
not withdrawn, and all trouble ended when the one 
Chinaman was hung and the half dozen flogged. 

The Chinese suffered many indignities at Hong 
Kong ; no doubt the rascally natives deserved pun- 
ishment often, and were only kept in check by 
the strong arm of power ; but the worthless adven- 
turers of the town took every occasion to disgust the 
Chinese, and did not even spare any portion of the 
better inhabitants. 

Scapegoats and scoundrels from the purlieus of 
London, creatures that only missed Botany Bay by 
good fortune, were to be found in the town of Victo- 
ria, lording it over the natives, many of whom were 
more respectable and respected than they had ever 
been or ever could be. 



Low Wapping dock loafers, who had never at 
home put their heads into decent houses, would 
swagger along three or four abreast, elbowing quiet 
men out of the way, and replying to a word by a 

The season of the year was late in the autumn ; 
it was in November when Americans button up their 
coats, and build large fires, and yet we were roasting 
in garments of the thinnest linen. 

By the way, the clothes we obtained in Canton, 
though of the vilest shape and fit, I have clung to 
afiectionately, and advise all who have been in 
China to follow my example, and wear them in hot 
weather. November is the last warm month in the 
south of China, and then, owing to its geographical 
position, the climate changes rapidly to cold and 
penetrating windy weather. But in Hong Kong we 
were cautioned by good friends to beware of the sun, 
and were followed, every time we went near the 
front door, by a servant with an oriental umbrella. 
We soon found, however, that walking on the hot 
sand was too uncomfortable, and until the setting 
sun threw its long shadows over the bay, we lay still 
beneath the broad verandahs. 

I was agreeably disappointed in Hong Kong ; it 
was not the dog's hole I had heard of. 

The steep hill, as I have before observed, is ex- 
cavated several hundred feet, and the barren sand 
reflects the solar heat and bums into the eyes with 
torrid glare. But in the evening one can drive along 
the street with pleasure, or seated in a sedan chair 
be carried by cooleys. The houses lie on each side 
of the way, and between the buildings on the water 


side one may catch glimpses of the blue water and 
the white sails. 

On the other side the hills tower abruptly, and 
several ambitious tenements are perched high in air. 
The houses are usually large, vast rooms are neces- 
sary in such a raging climate, and towards the water 
•are built deep latticed porches. 

The houses up the hill are inaccessible to car- 
riages, paths are cut, winding like Alpine passes, and 
it is pleasant at sunset to struggle up one of these 
defiles, and gain the little level garden surrounding 
the aerial mansion. Beneath lies the town, its white 
walls glittering in the departing splendors of day, 
while along the whole line of road the people flock 
to enjoy the hour. 

Further onward lies the beautiful sheet of shel- 
tered waters, blue as the heaven above, and dotted 
with the anchoring ships or restless sail. Beyond, 
the peaks of opposite islands glow in the purple 
light, and are reflected in the waves that creep to 
their green declivities. 

But we must not grow too sentimental ; with a 
white jacket and a segar, nothing is more delightful 
than sitting in a marble-paved verandah, with a 
keen sighted spy-glass, and to look every now and 
then lazily at a ship, and eagerly at a woman with 
a taking figure. 

The Governor General's house is placed on one of 
these eminences overlooking the town, and with a 
military guard and flagstaff* to denote it. 

As the town was rapidly increasing when I was 
there, go where you would your ears were met with 
the clink of hammers and chisels, and your eyes 


were in danger of sparks of stone at every comer. 
The buildings were run up and finished with magic 
ease ; one day the cellar would be dug, and the next 
the roof was being chunamed. 

It was not that the houses were hurried and 
slighted, but that such numbers of the Chinese were 
at work, that, like bees, the hive was soon ready for 
honey. The intense power of the sun drives all the 
workmen to shelter, and before a house is com- 
menced a staging of bamboo is erected and covered 
with matting. As the building rises the bamboo 
poles are run up story by story, the matting elevated, 
and the whole house completely protected from the 
glare of day until the last nail is driven. 

Many of the buildings are of a kind of sandstone 
easily worked when first quarried, but becoming 
harder the longer it is exposed to the weather. 

The Enghsh have made, as is usual with them, 
most excellent roads around the island, and have 
also introduced a strong police force. At night one 
always walks attended by a cooley carrying a lan- 
tern, and at the distance of every ten paces a police- 
man is stationed, and the light of the lantern shows 
him armed to the teeth. 

The shops in Hong Kong are of the most wretched 
order, there being no rich natives on the island, and 
the Europeans being supplied from several shops 
kept by English, and in which the wares of London 
are retailed at enormous profits. But the ravening 
wolves most successful in Hong Kong are the hotel 
keepers. Their houses are of the first order, over- 
run with rats and musquitoes, and they manage to 
charge more and give less than any other *' publicans 


and sinners." They go upon the Grahamite prin- 
ciple of buttering bread, they put as little as they 
can on, land scrape as much as they can off. 

Hong Kong for some years to come is likely to be 
the centre of British trade; it is eligibly situated, and 
easily defended. Ships can get into harbor, or out 
again, with almost any wind, and the passages are 
so narrow that a vessel could be riddled with bails 
and sunk in the water at a moment's warning. 

The British have also been wise enough to adopt 
the liberal policy and make Hong Kong a free port 
Quite different are the Portuguese at Macao ; in or- 
der to balance the power of the English, while duties 
are taken off in one spot they are increased in an- 
other, and of course the scale of opinion weighs in 
favor of the British settlement. 

Across the broad sheet of water that forms the. 
mouth of the Pekiang River, lies the old city of 
Macao. Enter a ship, and spreading sail, dash out 
of the harbor of Hong Kong, and a few hours' run 
brings you within hailing distance of the old Portu- 
guese city. 

There is nothing Chinese in its appearance ; it 
bears a striking resemblance to Naples in its curving 
beach and hills^ and its buildings. Around the 
beach is a stone pier, wide and level, the resort of 
the inhabitants at the hour of sunset, when the sea 
breeze comes gently over the waves. The quiet of 
the place is also soothing after the close reeking Can- 
ton and the upstart Hong Kong. The residents 
•enjoy perfect freedom from the curiosity or ill will 
of the natives, and one may live in complete Euro- 
pean style. 


The houses are ia many instances large, with vast 
rooms, palatial staircases, and mysterious veran- 
dahs, behind which a great deal of fun is oftto going 
on. Along the pier the garden gates of these old 
residences warily open and disclose the gay parterres, 
the solitary courts and green lattices. Macao is one 
of the most romantic looking cities that imagination 
can picture ; probably the illusion is increased after 
a sojourn among the matter-of-fact Chinese, but its 
air of loneliness and antiquity is always interesting. 

Every thing in China is old, so old as to run back 
into dim ages, but in Macao the time-worn buildings 
date only a few centuries prior to our own being. 

The inhabitants look as secluded and as singular 
as the houses ; in the broad day few are seen, but 
in the evening they saunter along the beach, and the 
women, in the garb of old Portugal, turn a dark eye 
on the stranger. Few of the residents are of conse-* 
quence, they are of old decayed families, as proud 
as Lucifer, the men lazy and the women mischiev- 
ous, and they doze away the days, and only appear 
as the night approaches. A man sick of the world, 
worn out and disgusted with himself and every one 
else, would find Macao a home more suited to his 
palled tastes and jaded spirit than any other spot that 
I could name. 

Around the city are good roads, and one may pass 
the barrier, enjoy a gallop along the sands, wind 
around by the native fort, and look far over the 
bay from the green eminence. 

The cave of Camoens is a shrine for all who ever 
heard the name of the first, I might almost say the 
only poet that Portugal can claim. Here in sight 


of the rolling wave it is said he wrote his Lusiad, 
and the old residents would utter a curse on him 
who dared to doubt the story. Be that as it mayj 
he was banished to this spot, and if it bore its pres- 
ent look in his time, his feelings might have flowed 
in poetry. 

The Chinese town, back of the city, is a hole 
of filth and wretchedness which few persons find 
worth visiting. Along the brow of the hill are 
scattered mansions surrounded with high walls, and 
in the midst of large cultivated inclosures. Pleasure 
grounds with bright grass and luxuriant trees, houses 
with vast airy apartments, and the perfect seclusion 
of these chosen spots make Macao beautiful. It was 
my good fortune to be domiciled m one of these for 
the little time I spent in the old city. The house 
was an ancient family property, with a hall wide 
and lofty enough for a palace in Lisbon. It was 
placed on the summit of the hill, and from its deep 
shaded verandah, the eye could through the waving 
trees, catch glimpses of the city below, and of the 
broad blue flashing bay.- Above the garden, on a 
precipitous crag, an old deserted convent rose high 
into air. Throughout the day the breeze blew 
through the halls, and the sun's fierceness was tem- 
pered by the leafy shade. And when the luminary 
sunk in his splendor, and twilight stillness brooded 
over the scene, the ear drank in the music, that arose 
where the curving beach bent in pity to the moan of 
the waters. 




That the Chinese have never been appreciated as 
a great nation should be, for great they undoubtedly 
are, is somewhat remarkable. Their history may 
be accurately traced to a period of time coeval with 
the mighty builders of the Egyptian pyramids, and 
for ages anterior, until it is lost in the dawn of crea- 

They have always been an unique people ; they 
have been the same, yesterday and to-day, and 
though they have several times been overrun with 
Asiatic hordes, and now obey the will of a mere 
handful of Tartars, they have never changed. Their 
masters have adopted their manners and customs in 
a great degree, and their hardy conquerors have from 
emperor to emperor sunk deeper into the enervating 
luxury of their subjects. 

It is not my place to dwell on the antiquity of the 
nation, but to illustrate by a few examples its pres- 
ent greatness. Suffice it to say, that its language to- 
day is the same as in the age of Confucius, that its 
great wall has been built two thousand years, and 
that its greater work, its mighty canal, has been 
traversed by its barges for more than six centuries. 

In the first place, and it at once impresses the 


beholder with a feeling akin to awe, it is mighty in 
its population. There is no parallel to it in all the 
earth. There is not room enough in the habitable 
parts of that vast empire for all those millions to 
dwell upon the hard soil, but of necessity enough to 
people a mighty state have been driven to its rivers 
and bays, where they live forever. 

That spectacle of the Canton river, which is but 
one in the great account, covered with countless hab- 
itations, and dark with human beings, could be seen 
only in an immense and powerful kingdom. 

Go where you will, you are in the midst of myri- 
ads, active, peacefully industrious, cheerful and 
obedient. The causes of their vast population are 
numerous. The climate is generally healthy, the 
people, excepting the rich, temperate, abstaining in 
a great degree from animal food, of a cheerful dis- 
position, all of which causes tend to make the people 
long lived. Another cause is the universality of 
marriage ; celibacy is hooted at. Another still, is 
the veto on emigration ; and yet another, two cen- 
turies of profound peace. The country has not been 
exhausted by bloody wars and crushing tyranny, but 
much has been done for the happiness of the people 
even by their Tartar rulers. 

The Chinese are great in their peaceful govern- 
ment ; there is no show of military authority, learn- 
ing always takes precedence of valor, and the man- 
darins govern by the power of law, and not by an 
appeal to the sword. 

The Chinese are great in their general diffusion of 
education ; scarce a cooley in the empire but that he 
can read and write at least his name. Erudition is 



a passport to the highest oflSices of the state; the 
lowest schoolboy may in time arrive at enormous 

And are not the Chinese great in their industrial 
arts? They have been celebrated throughout all the 
world for their rare and curious fabrics, and Euro- 
pean skill has in vain endeavored to equal many of 

They have been forever accused of being mere 
imitators, and I ask again, From whom have they 
borrowed their models? Printing, gunpowder, the 
mariner's compass, are all their own. They have 
been accused of remaining stationary. Undoubtedly 
they have for centuries, but they are not responsible 
for the sins of their masters, who have compelled 
them to move in a beaten track. They had far ad- 
vanced before they came to a halt, and were civilized 
when Caesar invaded savage Britain. They have 
been accused of being cowardly ; but can peaceful 
people, with imperfect arms, loose discipline and im- 
becile leaders, withstand the shock of armies trained 
on the battle-fields of Europe 7 Even as they are, 
the annals of the British invasion can tell of some 
conflicts in the north of China when the people 
fought till the streets were filled with their dead. 

Their manners, their habits, language, dress, and 
sentiments, have all been made the butt of witless 
ridicule too long. 

They need a wiser government, a holier religion, 
in short, Christianity, to entitle them to foremost 
rank with the most exalted nations of the earth. 




For more than four weary months our bark had 
lain supine amidst the mud banks of Whampoa, the 
crew had one by one been visited with the fevers of 
that deUghtful spot ; the captain had become so im- 
patient, that we thought he would leave the com- 
mand of the vessel to the first mate, and vanish, 
when all at once we put in cargo, and made haste to 

I had pretty thoroughly examined the wonders 
of Canton, and having received no letters for some 
time (our friends, no doubt, thinking it was high 
time for us to return home,) was very glad to make 
preparations for a return, sea voyage. The crew of 
the vessel looked more smart than they had for 
months past, whenever they came up to Canton for 
odds and ends of small stowage, and told that the 
sails were bent, and the rigging tarred, if not feath- 
ered, and the chaffing gear all put on. The captain 
had frequent discussions with Boston Jack, and re- 
plenished his stock of ale and porter, as we had made 
way with some thirty dozen on the outward passage. 
The clerks in the square looked at us in the most 
significant manner ; they seemed determined that we 
should know that they did know that we were very 


shortly to shove off and leaye one ship load less on 
their hands. The partners would look up to the sky 
and observe it was fine weather for getting under 
weigh, and more sigflmcant than all these signs of 
absolute exile, the Chinese shopkeepers, whom we 
had principally dealt with, old Washing, the scorn- 
ful skeptic on telegraphs among the number, came 
to bid us good bye, and hinted that next time they 
should look out for ''ploffits," having traded in this 
instance without the slightest remuneration. Even 
the boy whom we had frowned into tolerable obe- 
dience, came into our room, lugging with him two 
enormous piles of paper boxes, containing artificial 
flowers, of which he begged our acceptance, and 
expressed his thanks, in broken English, for the 
kindness we had shown towards him. After this 
we gave in we had held out, in the belief that we 
might stay a little longer, but we how prepared in 
real earnest for a speedy exit. 

We notified the captain to come and sign his bills 
of lading, and then kept him three days on pins, be- 
cause they were not quite ready. 

At the season of our departure, a little before the 
Chinese New Year, the presents or cumchaus, as 
they are called, pour in on the partners from the 
Chinese merchants. The clerks also come in for a 
good share of dividends, consisting principally of tea 
and fireworks. The various kinds of fragrant tea 
are put up in fancy boxes, painted grotesquely, and 
covered with fine paper, and in some cases inlaid 
with mother of pearl set in lacquered ware. The 
whole side of a room, from floor to ceiling, is often 
thus plastered with presents, and for our especial 


benefit, a number of boxes were seized, and smoth- 
ered in tight matting covers, for a sea voyage. As 
our presents bundled in, our friends did also, and 
we bid adieu to many with heartfelt regrets. It has 
been my happy fortune to meet a number of friends 
in this country who were sociable in China, and we 
have always talked over the good old times, and 
looked back with pleasure to the sojourn in that land. 
The last day of our stay arrived, our trunks were 
packed, and our travelling clothes put on, and we 
went to take a final look at the swarming streets. 
They were the same as ever, and we were not of that 
mighty throng. At the dinner that day the boy en- 
deavored to outdo himself, and even condescended 
tQ help persons beyond the pale of the circle that he 
moved in. Old Qui came up to strap our trunks, and 
mircAilc diciUj the grave old gate-keeper broke a 
long silence, and '^chin chinned us good voyagee." 
About twelve o'clock at night, or perhaps a little 
after, for we had determined not to leave on Friday, 
having such bad luck on the outward passage, all 
was ready for our departure. The Portuguese clerks 
had sloped without warning, the other clerks gave 
us to understand that they had seen enough of us by 
a convulsive squeeze of the hand at ten o'clock, and 
'^few m numbers," we assembled in the counting 
room, where we found a pair of superfine teal, and 
a baker's dozen of rice birds in a salver, reposing on 
the broad surface of an antediluvian leger. We made 
mince-meat of them in less than no time, and drank 
farewell in tall foaming champaigne glasses. 

We were accompanied to the pier by the partners 
and the faithful page, who would have had no ob- 



jection to go to America, if we had encouraged him. 
In front of the fast-boat we found Old Head and Si. 
They bid us good bye, and grinned wildly with de- 
Hght at the douceur in hard cash put into their 
hands ; and when the boy, as a most eloquent fare- 
well, received the same, he burst into rapturous 
thanksgiving and praise, and then departed to look 
out for another master. 

The boat shoved oflf, and the captain for the first 
time really believed that we were going, he grew 
sociable, and dilated on the magnificent set of new 
China he had bought for the vessel, and which would 
look so stylish next morning at breakfast time. 

It was the dead of a moonless night, and we saw 
nothing of the teeming boats, except those nearest us, 
as they floated past, and the lanterns that sparkled 
in the dark waters. The tide was against us, and 
we swept slowly past the sleeping thousands of that 
floating city. We had cleared all the boats, the cap- 
tain could almost smell the hot breakfast that the 
steward was to display on the shining dishes, when 
we bumped hard on a shoal with such force that the 
whole set of crockery ware was shattered to atoms 
in the brain of the impatient sailing master. But at 
length we reached the barque, with sails loosed and 
ready to weigh anchor, and hoisted some hundred 
packages of tea, silks, and clothing into the vessel. 
We were chin chinned by Boston Jack, in the most 
approved fashion, and, under the guidance of our 
Chinese pilot, began our homeward voyage. 

The town of Whampoa, and finally the shipping 
faded from our view, and I could not behold, with- 
out regret, the ancient pagoda, on the high hill over- 


looking Blenheim Reach. It was the last object of 
Chinese antiquity that I beheld. The next day we 
reached Macao, and then left the Celestial Empire 
as I suppose for ever. 

•*^ * ^ * * iif 

In the Arabian Tales the central flowery kingdom 
is considered the land of enchantments ; and though 
I did not fall in love with a princess of China, yet to 
my vision there were as many wonders displayed as 
were unveiled by the genii of the lamp of Aladdin. 


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